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THE SITUATION ROOM
Protesters Marching In NYC Ahead Of 8 P.M. Curfew; Source: A.G. Barr Ordered Authorities To Clear Protesters To Secure Wider Perimeter Around Lafayette Park; Mandatory Curfews In Effect For Multiple Cities; Former Pres. Bush Issues Statement On Death Of George Floyd; Now: Protests In Multiple Cities Around The U.S.; Now: George Floyd's Family And Friends Address Reporters. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 2, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news, America in crisis. Protests underway right now in cities across the United States over the killing of George Floyd.
And tonight, the U.S. is bracing for a possible eighth night of unrest. Curfews already have been issued in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and other major cities in an effort to prevent more violence. Also, Minnesota's governor has just announced the State Department of Human Rights will investigate the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's death, to see if it has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices targeting people of color.
Let's begin in Brooklyn, New York right now. Our National Correspondent Jason Carroll is joining us. Jason, lots and lots of people protesting in the streets ahead of the curfew that's scheduled to take effect in what, just under three hours.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf. Even before we got out here to Brooklyn in Manhattan, we saw hundreds of demonstrators who are already on the streets of Manhattan, more demonstrators out here in Brooklyn. And those that we've spoken to say that there's a real fear on their part that their message is getting lost because of all of those images of vandalism and looting.
CARROLL (voice-over): Streets across the nation uneasy as protests continue for an eighth straight day. 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 restrain Floyd and stood by as Derek Chauvin's knee slowly killed him. The state's governor announcing today the Minneapolis Police Department to undergo civil rights investigation.
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.
CARROLL (voice-over): Despite calls from Floyd's family for the other officers to be held accountable. Minnesota's Attorney General promising action soon.
ATTORNEY GENERAL KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: We plan on taking the proper and deliberate action.
CARROLL (voice-over): Thousands peacefully demonstrated Monday with some law enforcement even showing unity. Police officers taking a knee in Atlanta and Philadelphia. But others turned chaotic in New York City. The looting and violence was rampant. The governor publicly slammed the city's mayor for not deploying more police.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: What happened in New York City was inexcusable. First, the NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night.
CARROLL (voice-over): Cuomo even suggesting he would override the mayor to secure the streets.
CUOMO: My option is to displace the mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard.
CARROLL (voice-over): The mayor's office called Cuomo's remarks offensive and the city is changing its curfew from 11:00 to 8:00 p.m. for the rest of the week. As darkness and lawlessness take over some city streets, police officers increasingly in the line of fire. A New York police officer brazenly struck by a car last night in the Bronx captured on video.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a -- car.
CARROLL (voice-over): The officer remains in serious condition.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Anyone who attacks a police officer attacks all of us.
CARROLL (voice-over): And three officers hit by an SUV that barreled through a police barricade in Buffalo. In Las Vegas, one officer shot while four officers struck by gunfire in St. Louis.
CHIEF JOHN HAYDEN, ST. LOUIS POLICE: (INAUDIBLE) and we need to pray for our city and pray for these officers.
CARROLL (voice-over): In other areas, the police coming under scrutiny for their actions. In Atlanta six officers face charges for excessive force while we're moving two college students from a car over the weekend.
MESSIAH YOUNG, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE STUDENT TASED BY ATLANTA POLICE: I feel a little safer now. These monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else.
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.
CHIEF BRIAN MANLEY, AUSTIN POLICE: 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.
CARROLL: So again, Wolf, tonight the curfew in New York will be at 8:00. Last night, we were out here until 1:00 in the morning with hundreds of people who defied that curfew last night when it was at 11:00, many of them telling us tonight they intend to do the same. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, we'll watch it very closely. It could be rather tense. All right, Jason, thank you.
Let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is on the scene for us. So Jim, what is the situation --
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BLITZER: -- like right now over at the White House? What more are you also learning about that very ugly scene that unfolded live here on our air last night?
ACOSTA: Wolf, we can hear the protesters chanting just outside Lafayette Park, we've heard that all afternoon. There was also a moment earlier this afternoon where we could see Secret Service officers and National Guard troops mobilizing in the park as this crowd of demonstrators rose larger near the White House. Now, the Justice Department is claiming this evening that it was Attorney General William Barr who made the decision to clear out the park of peaceful protesters last night.
Some of those law enforcement officers and military forces, as we all remember, used tear gas or gas that looked like tear gas and flashbang. So the President could have a photo opportunity in front of St. John's Episcopal Church. The claim that Barr made that call conflict somewhat with what a senior administration official told us last night the decision was made by the Attorney General along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley.
Now, the U.S. Park Police just released a statement defending the response to the protesters saying the demonstrators were beginning to act violently. That is contrary to what multiple journalists including reporters that CNN witnessed.
In the meantime, Wolf, Mr. Trump has been taking something of a victory lap today and patting himself on the back at one point tweeting, D.C. had no problems. Last night. Many arrests. Great job. Done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. A word he's been using often. Likewise, Minneapolis was great. Thank you, President Trump. There are some White House officials and Trump advisors though who are questioning the President's action. One White House official told me earlier today the park should have been cleared much sooner before this area was so crowded with protesters yesterday evening. And we should also note, former Vice President Joe Biden is condemning Mr. Trump's actions. And here's what he had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I can't breathe. I can't breathe. George Floyd's last words, but they didn't die with him. They're still being heard. Echoing all across this nation.
A country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together.
But I promise you this, I won't traffic in fear and division. I won't fanned the flames of hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now as for the Trump administration, clearly top officials are pointing fingers at one another and trying to avoid blame for what took place yesterday afternoon, Wolf. But I will tell you, I talked to an Episcopal rector who was chased away from St. John's Episcopal Church yesterday. I spoke with her on the phone earlier today.
She described being tear gassed and chased out of that area by those police and military forces. And she called that scene yesterday disgusting and it's really hard to disagree with that scene description from that priest, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly is. All right, Jim Acosta, standby for a moment. Alex Marquardt is across the street not very far away from where you are over at Lafayette Park. You got a good crowd of protesters there. What's going on right now because the scene is very different today as opposed to 24 hours ago?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, that's right. That rector that Jim was talking about isn't the only one who was disgusted by what happened yesterday. So we're -- so many of the people here whether they saw it on TV or they were here in person. I just spoke with a young woman who had been hit in the arm by a projectile and had a huge bruise.
So this is a fired up crowd, Wolf. This is a growing crowd. This is a crowd that does not look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. The big difference today, Wolf, is that they have installed this 8 foot tall fence around the northern edge of Lafayette Park. And what that means is that the protesters won't be able to get inside the park without knocking it down. We have seen some violent shaking of that fence.
So -- but if that was meant to deter protesters from showing up, they have certainly failed. This is the fifth day of protests here in Washington, D.C. There's a curfew that is due to go into effect in just about two hours time.
But listening to Jim talk about what the U.S. Park Police said about their justification for that crackdown yesterday, Wolf, it is in stark contrast, I have to say, to what we saw. We were in that protest and utterly peaceful protests for three and a half hours not seeing a single projectile thrown at the police. Before that crackdown started right at 6:30, right as the President was going into the Rose Garden, to declare himself the law and order president.
That crackdown beginning right here with U.S. Park Police firing all manner of projectiles to push out the protesters all the way down this street, H Street so the President could walk right where I am standing, Wolf, across Lafayette Square, which had then been cleared out even though there was still some of that smoke hanging in the air and the protesters who were still lining up against law enforcement over on Connecticut Avenue over there.
So the President could come right here and do his photo opportunity outside St. John's Church, which is right there. And incident, Wolf, that the mayor of Washington, D.C. Muriel Bowser said she was shocked and outraged by it, Wolf?
BLITZER: A lot of people who were shocked and outraged by it as well. And that church, St. John's Church, it's right near you. It's right across the street from where you are, right?
MARQUARDT: It is, Wolf. Let me try to parse -- put -- cut through this crowd just to show you a little bit better. So that is St. John's Episcopal Church, right there, often referred to as the Church of the Presidents because it is so close to The White House. So many presidents have gone to worship there, have gone to services there, including President Obama. President Trump did go has been before. He does not go regularly.
And what -- two nights ago when we were out here, when protests did turn violent, when protesters did turn violent, they lit fires, they were throwing things at the police. There was a large fire that was set, pretty much right where I am standing, as well as in the basement room in St. John's Church. And you can see the day after they boarded up that church. What you're looking at right now is an auxiliary building, essentially, which is right behind the main church.
But, yes, this church that the President decided to visit, which he mentioned at the end of his remarks yesterday, he said he was going to visit a special place. That is this church right here. One block away from the White House.
And as we've now learned, Wolf, he wanted to do it because of the reporting about him being in a bunker in the basement of the White House on Friday as these protests exploded, and he didn't like that reporting. He didn't like that image of him being in that bunker, so he wanted to come out here and show his face outside. And that's why all these protesters are so violently cleared away last night, Wolf. BLITZER: Yes. It was a really, really ugly, ugly scene. Peaceful protesters and all of a sudden, the police, military police and Secret Service police moving forward and engaging in activities that they shouldn't have engaged in. And that was before the curfew was supposed to go into effect.
Alex Marquardt, thank you very much. We'll get back to you.
Brian Todd is in Philadelphia right now, which has seen a lot of activity as well. What are you seeing now, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, another very large gathering here in Philadelphia. Thousands of people gathering in the eastern part of the city marching past City Hall into Rittenhouse Square into an area here of South Philadelphia now turning back up towards City Hall.
There were several hundred at first and they were joined by throngs of several hundred more. So we've got thousands with us now. Very, very passionate, doing what they've been doing all week, chanting the names of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, the young woman killed in Louisville, and other young African-Americans dying at the hands of police.
What they don't want is for the recent reports that everybody has done about looting and burning in the city. They don't want that to be the central message of what they're doing here. We can tell you that there's also, Wolf, a lot of concern among protesters, about whether police might resort to the kind of tactics that they did yesterday at about this time. They find a lot of tear gas on protesters who are down on the highway, creating a basic stampede of people trying to climb over a fence. That was a horrible scene.
These people here are very concerned. They don't want police to start to do that. The police have defended their actions saying that they were basically provoked into doing that by protesters who harassed a police car who was on that highway and who did not obey orders to disperse from that highway. That's the police defending their actions.
But detentions here are still very high, Wolf, because protesters here just worried that maybe any little thing might provoke the police to resort to similar tactics. But we can tell you also we have some new figures from the last three days, nearly 700 arrests here, most of it for looting or violating curfew or public nuisance. We also have been able to confirm a rash of attacks on ATMs. There were several that were blown up overnight, and one young man was killed trying to blow one up according to city officials.
Still a lot of looting. There was a young looter who was killed by a store owner in South Philadelphia. So the tension is still in the air but also an air of real civil disorder in pockets in the city flaring up overnight. And today, Wolf, still a lot of tension in the air in Philadelphia. But right now, so far, this marks this protest very peaceful, very spirited, very boisterous. And as you can see, heading right to City Hall.
[17:15:01] BLITZER: And there's a curfew scheduled now in Philadelphia, Brian, where you are for 8:30 p.m. tonight, is that right?
TODD: That's correct, Wolf. They're pushing the curfew a little later tonight to 8:30. It was 8:00 last night. It's 8:30 today because there's a Pennsylvania State primary going on. They want to give people a little bit more time to vote. So they're pushing it to 8:30.
Last night when the curfew was implemented, there was a large -- there was a crowd of protesters in front of the police station. There was a standoff there with police. At one point, police took a knee in deference to the protesters. That created a great round of applause, a lot of positive energy and protesters started to disperse.
But then just a few minutes later, police moved in with tactical gear, riot gear, heavily armored vehicles. And you worried at that point that the police were just kind of, you know, resorting to more heavy handed tactics. Luckily, that particular standoff ended peacefully. The protesters dispersed and the rest of the evening was fairly quiet regarding protests, but there was still a lot of crime, a lot of looting overnight.
So the city is still trying to get their arms around all this trying to manage these crowds and trying to, of course, you know, apprehend the looters and the other criminals who -- one local district attorney by the way, Larry Krasner, he told a local affiliate that the vast majority of those looters are young Philadelphians that have nothing to do with these protests, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, standby. We're going to get back to you. Brian Todd in Philadelphia. That curfew scheduled for 8:30 tonight.
We're joined now by CNN Anchor Don Lemon, who's been watching all of this very closely. Don, let's talk a little bit about the curfews. I'm looking at a list over here. New York City 8:00 p.m., Washington, D.C. 7:00 p.m., Philadelphia 8:30, Los Angeles 6:00 p.m., Miami 9:00 p.m., Atlanta 9:00 p.m., Louisville 9:00 p.m., Chicago 9:00 p.m., Denver.
These are major American cities and they have curfews, people will not be allowed to go out on the streets after that curfew goes into effect. It says a lot about what's going on in the United States right now.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It says a lot about what's going on the United States. It says a lot about the vacuum of leadership in our country that protesters cannot take to the streets. And people can't figure out the difference between the protesters and the bad actors.
I think it's important to make a distinction between those people, the bad actors and the legitimate protesters. I think law enforcement should be able to get a handle on the difference and put people on the streets to be able to stop the looting and the violence.
But I also think that people should be able to continue to protest to exercise their First Amendment rights, because this has been a long time coming. I am heartened to see the scenes right now on the streets of the city -- of cities, Washington, Philadelphia, so on and so forth, all over the country, where people are exercising their First Amendment right to free speech to gather and to protest.
The farce that it was yesterday, Wolf, as we sat here at this time, and watch the build up to a major photo op that accomplished nothing for the American people, except everything for this President. A photo op that they use to build a video that they could put on a Web site so that they could send out to Twitter on a White House Web site. A photo op that they could possibly use for a campaign ad come November to reelect the President of the United States. That's all that was for yesterday.
At the -- while he was talking about treating everyone equally and protesters fairly, simultaneously, police and military personnel are pushing peaceful protesters back causing violence, the state actually causing violence on the people yesterday. It is a misuse of the office. It is a misuse of the government. It is a misuse of the instruments of the government of the United States.
And I am surprised that Republicans are standing by, many of them are standing by, most of them and not calling this action out. No one wants violence on the streets. That is a given. No American wants violence on the streets. No one wants anyone losing their lives. No one wants anyone losing their property.
But if we don't stand up for the First Amendment rights for the next person, then we will lose ours. So all the people, even if you support President Trump, or whoever you support, Joe Biden, whoever it is, you should be standing up for the rights of these young people to be out on the streets today.
They are exercising their rights as American, protect Americans protected by the Constitution of the United States. I'm not exactly sure what curfew no matter what time considering the anger among these people and the disappointment in our government, especially yesterday evening, I don't know what is going to stop them from being out on the streets except for --
BLITZER: Yes, we're showing --
LEMON: -- possibly martial law.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, Don, live pictures, these Washington, D.C., they're not sitting in Washington, D.C. Very peaceful, very peaceful right now.
Let's hope it stays like that. Let's hope the police don't move in on all these people who have gathered here in the nation's capital. We saw Philadelphia, we saw in New York, Los Angeles.
Derrick Johnson is with us as well, the President and CEO of the NAACP. Derrick, thanks so much for joining us. What's your reaction when you see these peaceful demonstrations continuing now? It's day eight. DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: You know, it -- when you look at the crowd, look at the diversity of the crowd, it shows you that Americans, not only African-Americans, are fed up with the system. They're fed up with this administration.
They're tired of seeing young people, black men killed in broad daylight by police and not held accountable or they're fed up with the current economic picture. They're fed up with the lazy response, the anemic response from this administration to address a global health pandemic.
We have seen this coming for the last four years. We have an administration that lacked the capacity to lead. We have a President that lack the capacity to see outside of the mirror that he looks in. And now we have a situation that we have to suffer through this until we get to November. And I'm looking forward today with all of the people I'm seeing in the streets turn out to the opposed to change this administration.
What we have witnessed in the last 80 days is perhaps, in my opinion, the worst time in American history outside of the Civil War. We've gone from a global pandemic, an anemic response, African-Americans beings impacted at alarming rates as a result of COVID. We've seen someone killed on camera in Georgia.
We've seen someone killed in Minneapolis, we've learned about a woman who her house was invaded by police officers because of a defect of war and they had the person that was looking for apprehended. We see a woman in Central Park practicing her acting skills, which was a racial hate crime because you had a gentleman simply bird watching.
And then we see a district attorney refusing to bring charges holding this whole nation hostage. It was time for peaceful protests. And that's what we're looking at. But unfortunately, we have a President who came to the catered to theatrics as opposed to leading the nation, speaking to everyone and helping us get out of this current situation. Most of us we cannot wait to November to address the current reality.
BLITZER: Derrick, I want you to stand by. Abby Phillip is with us as well. Abby, I think it was very clear the speech, the statement we heard the President deliver yesterday, was in marked contrast to what we heard from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden earlier today. Very different words.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It could not have been more different, Wolf. And, you know, that was the whole point on Biden's part is to draw that contrast not just in terms of empathy with the protesters who are on the street talking about how the country moves past this moment, and learns from these protesters who are out on the streets, but also talking about practical ways to actually reform policing in this country.
And that's the point at which, you know, I was literally just reviewing President Trump's statement on George Floyd on Saturday, the one that he gave when he was at the space launch that he gave to a group of reporters. And in that statement, the President says absolutely nothing about systemic racism.
He says nothing about whether or not he believes that this is part of a pattern of policing that needs to be addressed in this country. And he continued to not say anything about either of those things at the Rose Garden yesterday. So this is about blind spot, Wolf.
The President has not addressed this issue. It's one of the reasons the protesters are still out there. And I think you're going to hear a lot about this from his Democratic rival, in Joe Biden. But, you know, Wolf, I want to note, former President George W. Bush put out a statement today that directly addressed the issue of systemic racism in this country. Again, a stark contrast to President Trump, who still has not addressed that at all.
BLITZER: You know, and the former president, Abby, did put out a statement saying that he and his wife Laura, and I'm quoting now, are disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our nation. The statement did not say anything directly about the President's response. But let me get Don Lemon to react to that, once again, a different tone coming from the former President George W. Bush as opposed to the current President.
LEMON: Well, again, that's leadership. The former president is a leader, the former president, in a sense, has sense. The former president cares about the country, puts a country in the office of the presidency ahead of himself.
The former president doesn't have dictatorial tendencies. He is, again, he cares about people. He has empathy. This President does not. This President cares only about photo ops. The former president of the United States would realize that the effect for peaceful marches last night had more to do with Terrence Floyd, George Floyd's brother calling for peace yesterday, then for a dictatorial President who seek violence and police officers in the military on peaceful protesters.
So, of course, there's going to be a marked difference between this President and any other president in history. I was quite heartened yesterday to hear one of our former anchors on television, Bernie Shaw, saying -- talking about this presidency and looking at it with a wisdom that Bernie Shaw has saying that this President, this administration will be looked upon in history as an aberration. Let's hope before that aberration happens that we don't lose hundreds of lives in the process.
BLITZER: Standby, Don, everybody standby. We're going to continue our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Curfews are going to affect in major American cities from coast to coast, the largest cities in the United States.
And you're seeing live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C. You look at -- this is 16th street here in Washington, D.C. A huge crowd has gathered already there and more people are on their way. Our special live coverage will continue right after a quick break.
BLITZER: Peaceful demonstrations are occurring in huge, huge numbers all around the United States right now. We're watching all of them unfold as curfews are getting ready to be imposed in major cities coast to coast.
Let's go to Los Angeles right now. Kyung Lah is on the scene for us. Kyung, what are you seeing, what's going on there?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a protest that is by, you know, just what I've seen, a larger protest than what we saw in Hollywood yesterday. It has been incredibly peaceful. This is a group that's really trying to get their message out and they are certainly taking care of one another.
And I want you to take a look over, as Jordan raises this camera, you cannot see where it starts and I cannot see where it ends. That's how large it is. A lot of the protesters here are holding up homemade signs.
And something interesting that I'm seeing is that people -- when they confront the police, and they're talking to the police officers who are blocking off the entrances to the freeway, is I'm hearing them say, March with us, make a difference. And there's much more of a sense of unity and connectedness and trying to find a common solution together.
So it's been really an extraordinary day, just from what we've seen. And yesterday, there were some sporadic reports of looting. I have not seen or heard anything like that today. And considering the size of this crowd, Wolf, it really is quite extraordinary. But, you know, essentially all of Hollywood is shut down, as this group marches peacefully to the streets here.
BLITZER: And the curfew in Los Angeles, Kyung, goes into effect 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, your time, which is 9:00 p.m. here on the east coast. I guess that's being done because of because of what has happened over the past few days, right?
LAH: Yes, it's it's the bad elements who have really caused that curfew to happen. They want to try to clear the streets. And, you know -- I think you're the gentleman I saw earlier talking to the police officer.
JOSEPH HAYNES, DEMONSTRATOR, LOS ANGELES: Yes, ma'am.
LAH: And what's your name?
HAYNES: My name is Joseph Haynes.
LAH: And Joseph, I was really struck by what you told the police officer, and there was a lot of communication between the two of you. Tell me why you want to talk to the police officer. HAYNES: Well, see, I believe that at the end of the day, a lot of these stories that we see specifically in the media -- yes, I'm calling the media out because they're not reporting what's going on half the time with all these things that are occurring. We want peace.
You look at all these wonderful people out here. Look at us. And this is not just black people. These are all people out here and we're trying to tell the police all over the country. If you just marched with us, you're showing that you're not standing in solidarity for a system that has oppressed people for hundreds of years.
We just want you to show that you are with us. Because this is the America that I want my kids to live in and be proud of, that finally stands up to the meaning of its creed. That's what we're here for. What's your name?
LAH: My name is Kyung for the CNN.
HAYNES: God bless you.
LAH: Thank you so much.
HAYNES: Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
LAH: So that's just one of the many people we're seeing here march through Hollywood, just a sampling, Wolf. However many people are out here and it's a lot of them.
BLITZER: Yes, they're certainly are. All right, Kyung, be careful over there. I see a lot of the people at least engaging in some social distancing as they march, but plenty of others are not. Some are wearing masks. Some are not. We'll watch that closely together with you Kyung Lah in LA.
Ryan Young is on the scene for us in Chicago right now. Ryan, what are you seeing there?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're about two hours into this protest. And I can tell you a few thousand people are here. Take a look here, they've marched down to this location right now.
And you can see a line of officers that stand just about on the other side here. This protest has been remained absolutely peaceful and they've been having a sort of meetings and conversations in different intersections. They sort of talk about the platform that they want to get out there. At some points, they even engage with police officers.
Right now, there's a -- just a group of speakers who are talking to them. This is such a big difference between what we saw over the weekend where we had large protests that sometimes went out of hand. This is not the case here. The last two days has been completely organized, and on top of that has remained peaceful and these larger protests now. Last night, there was some small amounts of looting, but it had nothing to do with the peaceful protesters who were walking through the streets. Again, you look at this crowd, it's like thousands of people, it stretched block after block after block. I'll kind of walk you through this direction right now to and kind of show you just how large this crowd is.
And what we've noticed is they've asked for police reforms, they've talked about George Floyd, and they said they want to make sure there's a civilian review board that they could start seeing some differences throughout the country when it comes to policing.
On top of that, there's a tremendous amount of heat here in Chicago, so we've had several people unfortunately need medical attention out at this protest because of the extreme heat. But, again, Wolf, what a big difference. Think about Sunday, there was 699 arrests made during some of the protests and some of the looting. That's not the case that's happening right now.
BLITZER: Well, that's a very impressive crowd indeed. Ryan Young on the scene for us. Ryan, standby.
New York City is extending its 8:00 p.m. curfew for the rest of this week after protests did lead to some violence and looting last night. But the Mayor Bill de Blasio says the National Guard and other armed forces are not needed.
Joining us now is the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. He's a former captain in the New York Police Department. Thanks so much for joining us, Eric. You spent more than two decades in the NYPD, you also founded a group to fight police brutality. How do you make sense of the scenes that we're seeing unfold not only in New York City but around the country?
ERIC ADAMS, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT: Wolf, I cannot tell you how I feel right now. The emotion, the pain I saw when we saw George Floyd on the ground, with his foot on his neck. It reminded me as a child being beat by police and urinating blood for weeks after that beating and going into the police department and fighting against police abuse. This is a moment for me and the emotion is unbelievable.
And seeing young people are taken to the streets across our country, and stated that these are the children of these civil rights fighters, it brings me joy, but it also brings me concern and I must be clear about that. You cannot end violence by using violence.
And what has happened particularly here in New York City and other big cities, they have professional agitators who are attempting to hijack a righteous fight to end police abuse. And their goal is not to end police abuse in my opinion, their goal is to see how cities burns and we cannot allow that to happen.
But now these new peaceful marches of different ethnicities, this is what I've always look forward to. And I'm just really pleased with what Americans are doing across the country. BLITZER: Your city, New York City, Eric, has now moved the curfew up to 8:00 p.m. tonight, it was 11:00 p.m. last night. Do you think that will help prevent some of that ugly looting that we all saw on the streets of New York last night?
ADAMS: I believe that I am in support of the curfew as long as it's not a tool that's used to stop people from voicing their right to protest. The historical not only police abuse, but all of the issues. The police officer having his foot or knee on the neck of Floyd was just about Americans, and particularly those of color saying they had to put on their neck throughout the virus throughout the homelessness, throughout all of these issues.
And so I'm hoping that those who are really taking control of this protest is not going to allow people to hijack it. And the -- some of the looting that you have witnessed is not what this is about, and those who are using this as a method to go in and create crimes, we cannot accept that. Our cities can't burn, because our police, this city when crime was at high, when our homes were burned, we're not going to go back to that. But we're not also going to return to the days of police abuse.
BLITZER: You served for many years in the NYPD. As you know, your Governor Andrew Cuomo says the response last night by the Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD, in Cuomo's word was inexcusable. He called the response a disgrace. How do you respond to that?
ADAMS: I think now is not the time to use terminologies that's going to divide us. I want -- I reached out to the governor this afternoon and I communicated with him and I've also been in contact with the mayor. It's time for both of them to show a united front and state that we're going to use whatever means and measures that are within the law to protect the people of this city, protect them, not only their right to protest, but the right to ensure that we don't destroy a city that we built throughout the years.
Many people don't know this was gutted-out city. The buildings were gutted-out and destroyed and no one wants to hear we're not going back to those days. But we're not going to go back to the days where young men like me would lay on the police floor and be beaten repeatedly by police officer. I did not give my life as a cop to change that. And I'm not going to give up and surrender my life as the activist and an elected official. We're going to move forward together in a safe manner.
BLITZER: And you are the Brooklyn Borough President. The Mayor Bill de Blasio is rejecting President Trump's call to bring in the National Guard. Do you think the NYPD needs that help or would that only potentially inflame the situation further?
ADAMS: We cannot -- Wolf, we cannot ignore the fact that the President has been a complete embarrassment to our nation. He has created the level of division that we are experiencing. And any advice that comes from that -- the occupation of the White House is something that we don't need right now. I think that if we use the proper police practices and tactics, then we can ensure the safety of New Yorkers without having to escalate to a level that we can return from.
Let's remember, the National Guard has presented a lot of pain to many people during the civil rights era. We do need to use them, they are not to be used in an enforcement aspect. They can be used in a very tactical way to protect property. But the police, the well-trained police should be used to interact with the crowd. And those who don't have the capacity.
And this is what I say often, every police is not made for every task but in the police department. We need to understand that and we need to have those who have the mental capacity to deal with the stress on the frontline of a issue of this magnitude there. I've had people spit in my face. I've had people throw rocks at me as a police officer.
I marched during the day and didn't put on the uniform to protect marchers at night. And I know you have to write -- I have to write demeanor to do something of this magnitude, and we need to start doing that without police departments.
BLITZER: Eric Adams is the Brooklyn New York Borough President, a former NYPD police officer, a captain in the NYPD. Good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in New York. Good luck to everyone around the country. These are really, really sensitive, delicate moments right now. Thanks so much for joining us.
ADAMS: Thank you. Take care, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll squeeze in a quick break. Our special coverage will continue right after this.
BLITZER: There's a news conference going on in Houston. This is a Steven Jackson, former NBA player who was a friend of George Floyd's. Let's listen in.
STEVEN JACKSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: We going to put my brother to -- we're going to send him home in beautiful ways this week, but I'm telling you, we are not leaving. We're demanding justice. And I'm tired of seeing that. I'm not going to see her hurt every day like this.
We need justice. We demand it, and some kind of way. God damn it, we going to get it. Thank you all for coming. But this shot has to stop, man. It has to stop.
CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY TO GEORGE FLOYD: You know, we'd literally flew up here from Atlanta where today the district attorney indicted six officers who were involved in beating those college students and tasering them. The district attorney, the mayor, and our chief of police took action in under a week, fired and indicted. But yet here, we're still waiting for the arrest of the other
officers. Why can't that be a blueprint of what should happen in these officer-involved situations? The pictures last forever, but justice never truly comes in this. And time and time again, we're fighting these cases.
You know, we literally flew up here from Atlanta, where today the district attorney indicted six officers who were involved in beating those college students and tasering them. The district attorney, the mayor, and our chief of police took action in under a week fire and indicted. But yet here, we're still waiting for the arrest of the other officers.
Why can't that be a blueprint of what should happen in these often involves situations? The pictures last forever. But justice never truly comes in this and time and time again, we're fighting these cases.
Everybody at home is wondering why riots are happening, why protesting is happening. It is because situations like this do not get addressed. No one is saying that every police officer out there is out to try and kill somebody. But when someone does do something, when someone crosses the line, they have to go through the system and be held accountable. How is that not fair?
And it always happens to African-Americans. And the end result is this. And it's a circle because then it's held against a young African-American child when they don't have a parent, when they don't have a father. Now, we're somehow less than equal because we're missing that dad.
Well, this is going to be the reason that Gianna is missing that dad, through no fault of her own, through no fault of his. So this helps that cycle and it has to end. And we plan on fighting until the end to make sure that that happens even with new policies being instituted, with the investigation that was announced today. We hope to see further steps, so that this never happens again.
JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY: With that, we'll take a few questions.
STEWART: And very few, because this is a rough day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could Roxie just talk about the man George was, and father? And give us some beautiful memories of him.
ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE'S FLOYD'S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER: 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.
STEWART: All right. One last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, can you tell us a little bit about what he told you where he wanted to move to Minneapolis? Why did he want to move? What did he tell you? WASHINGTON: To work, to seek work, job opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like he was going to achieve his goal?
WASHINGTON: Yes, he was. He was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was able to be and remain a part of (INAUDIBLE).
WASHINGTON: Of course, he was. He still took care of us. He lived here, but we still had that connection. And he still took care of us. He provided for us, even living here working.
JACKSON: That was his main reason for moving. When he called me, his whole reason for coming was to get here, get away from Texas, so he can come and provide for his family. Be a better father, be a better provider.
His whole reason for being in Minnesota was to work and drive trucks. That's why he came here. And he was doing that. He was doing great here. He was turning the curve. And then this happened.
So he was doing his part.
STEWART: So we hope you all see the human side of George and not just pictures and videos on the internet. And that he has a legacy, a beautiful legacy, that no matter how rough and chaotic the world looks right now, this beautiful little girl is going to have a bright future.
JACKSON: Yes, indeed.
STEWART: And, you know, like he said, Jay said, we're going to guarantee that.
STEWART: Making sure everybody's held accountable and making sure that her future is bright. So, now associate this beautiful little face when you all think of that memory. And when you see images or some outlets trying to bring up things to destroy a man's name, you think of this every single time you see him like that.
JACKSON: You all should know this is the frustration I have. This is my brother's six-year old daughter. I have a daughter. So this is my frustration. You all want to know why I'm here? Why I'm standing, why I'm here? Because my brother's daughter have to live without him.
Look at the tears from Roxie. This is why I'm here. I'm too crying. I'm ready to fight. I'm ready to stand for my brother. I'm ready to get justice for my brother. That's why I'm here. Don't ask me that no more.
STEWART: Thank you all.
WASHINGTON: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, very emotional moment. The little six-year old girl Gianna, the daughter of George Floyd, her mother, Roxie Washington, you saw her crying. Stephen Jackson, the former NBA player, obviously understandably angry at what's going on right now. That was a powerful moment.
Let me get Don Lemon to react to what we just saw. What a sweet little girl and so sad, Don, that she's lost her dad.
LEMON: Anyone who has a family can relate to those pictures and are heartbroken by that little girl. She is stunned, she is six years old standing there, wondering what is going on. Imagine your six-year old having to go through the same thing to lose a father.
And I think it was quite appropriate for them to tell George Floyd's story about why he was in Minneapolis, what he was doing trying to provide for his family. Not all families are able to be together. Sometimes people grow apart and they separate, that happens to many, many families in this country. But yet and still the parents have a relationship and a connection where they provide for the child and they co-parent together. And that's what Roxie and George Floyd were doing for a little Gianna.
And I think this is a truly American story. When you look at this family and you look at that little girl and the mother of the child crying in tears. The mom couldn't get a word out without crying, saying he loved her talking about the day she was -- Gianna was born. And him being there and sleeping on the couch and sleeping in the hospital and holding her while she went into labor. And as soon as she was born, holding his daughter said she took care of -- he took care of us, he provided for us.
He came to Minnesota to be able to provide for us. He loved her so much. He said -- that's what this story is about. It's about families who are torn apart, about loved ones who are pulled from their families, whose lives are extinguished. People who lose their lives at the hands of police officers every single year and those officers are not held accountable. And this is not about the looting and the violence.
We have crime all over this country. And we take care of it every day. But this issue we need to take care of now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. You know, I want to play another little clip. Gianna, the adorable six-year old little girl, Gianna's mother, Roxie Washington, you saw her in tears right now, Gianna, the daughter of George Floyd. I want to play this clip earlier Roxie Washington said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WASHINGTON: I don't have a lot to say because I can't get my words together right now. But I want everybody to know that this is what -- those officers took from --
JACKSON: It's all right, baby.
WASHINGTON: At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle.
If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad. She does not have that anymore. I'm here for my baby. And I'm here for George, because I want justice for him. I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good. And this is the proof that he was a good man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What a heartbreaking moment that we've been watching Roxie Washington, the mother of little Gianna, six years old. She's the daughter of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis a little bit more than a week ago.
Don, it's so heartbreaking to think this sweet little girl is now going to have to grow up without her dad.
LEMON: Yes. And, you know, I can only relate it to anyone -- the only way I can convey this as anyone who is watching. Wolf, you know, you walk your daughter down the aisle, right?
LEMON: Every dad wants to walk their daughter down the aisle. Every daughter wants her dad to walk them down the aisle. Every daughter wants to go -- that connection that daughters and dads have. Every daughter wants to go when they have a problem, as Roxie Washington said. They go to their fathers, and they want their father to handle it.
They want the man in the house to handle it. The man in their life. And so many things that she's going to miss out, she's going to turn in and look for her father at graduation and he won't be there and look for him at whatever sporting event she may be. She may be an athlete, who knows. She may be a cheerleader, she may become president of United States, who knows.
But then she won't have her father there for her for that. She will had this searing memory in her life of what we saw on videotape. Sadly, this little girl -- and I hope that it is a motivating factor for her whether -- rather than one that causes her to have more pain, I want this to help her achieve greatness. I hope that that's a --this is a motivating factor for her.
BLITZER: We certainly all hope and we couldn't agree with you more. Don, don't go away and we're going to continue our special live coverage here in The SITUATION ROOM. Demonstrations unfolding all over the country. Curfews are about to be imposed in major cities from coast to coast. Our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM will continue right after a very quick break. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Justice!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?