Return to Transcripts main page
One Man's Death Shakes the World; People of Color Bears the Signature of Discrimination; Good and Bad Apples Seen in Police Departments; One Photo-Op Isn't Enough for President Trump; Canadian Prime Minister Speechless for 21 Seconds; President Trump Facing Backlash Over Church Appearance; Joe Biden Rips Trump Over Church Photo Op; Former U.S. President Speaks Out On George Floyd's Death; CNN Investigates Extremists' Role In Protests; America In Crisis; Federal Officials Say They've Seen Indications Extremists May Be Taking Part In Riots, But Haven't Provided Evidence; Minnesota Governor Blames Outsiders For Destruction; CNN Found 80 Percent Of Weekend Arrests Were Locals; Questions About Organized Groups Among Protesters; The Role Of Antifa In Protests Over George Floyd's Death; Protest During A Pandemic; NYC Medical Workers Clap In Solidarity With Protesters; Coronavirus Pandemic; Top U.S. Expert Cautiously Optimistic About Vaccine; Officials Warn Protests Could Lead To More Infections; GOP Forced To Seek New State For RNC. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired June 3, 2020 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, live at CNN center in Atlanta.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Vause. It's now three a.m. here on the U.S. East Coast, midnight in out west. Thanks for joining us.
ALLEN: Our top story. Protest over the tragic death of George Floyd are entering a second week in the United States with calls for justice and equality continuing to ring loudly across this country. Dozens of cities are now under curfew. Those are the yellow dots you are seeing. But that is not stopping protesters.
VAUSE: In the capital, National Guard troops and protesters were facing off near the White House. Tense scenes there for several hours after curfew went into effect and after a day of mostly peaceful protests.
In New York, hundreds of protesters have been marching across the Manhattan Bridge. Some social media post claims they're having police presence at both ends of the bridge had penned in the demonstrators. But a spokesperson for the mayor says only one end was blocked.
ALLEN: In Los Angeles, hundreds of protesters have been arrested for defying a 6 p.m. curfew order. Demonstrators marched peacefully for hours though through several neighborhoods. Earlier, this massive crowd gathered in front of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's home.
VAUSE: And this was the scene in Portland. Thousands of protesters lying down on a bridge with their hands on their backs.
ALLEN: Let's talk about Portland right now. I am joined by activist and educator, Ron Herndon. He joins me from Portland, Oregon. Thanks so much, Ron, for being with us. How are you?
RON HERNDON, ACTIVIST AND EDUCATOR: I am very good. Thank you.
ALLEN: Yes. Thank you for coming on. We just saw the peaceful protests of people there in Portland doing a, you know, a lie down to emphasize what has happened to people, making it a somber event.
We are seeing it heat up right now in Portland, for some reason. It seems police have been firing tear gas at protesters. How would you say, overall, things are going in Portland? And what is the output as far as the people that are coming out to support this cause?
HERNDON: I think for the most part, the protests this evening went very well. Apparently, there were around 10,000, 11,000 people there very peaceful listening to speeches. And after the majority of the people left, it seems as if there was a smaller group that remained and they got into some conflicts and apparently are in conflict with the police now. I'm not sure why.
ALLEN: What have you thought about the number of protesters? I mean, look at the -- right now on the screen, we are seeing massive protests. There have been blacks and whites protesting together.
As I understand it, Portland hasn't always had the best relationships between black and white. There have been racial inequities. How would you characterize what's happening now, and whether the city is moving forward?
HERNDON: If you know much about the history of Oregon, Oregon, when it became a territory and later when it became a state, it said it was illegal for black people to enter Oregon, whether they were free or a slave. And initially, it became a territory that gave them, it was six months to get out of the territory, or else you are supposed to be brought in to the sheriff or marshal's office and flawed.
So, Oregon has had a horrible history of racism. As a matter of fact, in the 20's, Oregon had the largest Klu Klax Klan chapter west of the Mississippi. So, it's had a very troubling history of racism sensed its inception.
And today, that still continues in many forms. The black community at least as we knew it basically was destroyed over the last 10 or 15 years and black people because of red lining have been forced out of the traditional communities.
The school system has never worked well for black people. Discrimination in terms of hiring has been horrible. The possibility of economic development has been slim and none. Banks have been very reluctant to grant loans to black people who want to go into business.
There is a very sorry and sordid record of discrimination regarding black folks who do want to get involved in economic development. So, the racial history of Portland has been bad, very bad.
ALLEN: It certainly has. Do you think this issue, the George Floyd killing, may change things? May change a dialogue?
HERNDON: I don't think dialogue is the problem. The problem has always been the intransigent of the institutions in Portland, the banking community, the economic development, educational community, health care, probably one of the worst examples is locally with the advent of COVID across this country, when Oregon knew that it was headed in this direction, up until two days ago, Oregon did not have a plan on how to protect black citizens.
We pressed them, pressed them, pressed them. Nothing was done. And finally, they came up with a draft plan two days ago. And we had to force them, to literally force them to have testing at a site in the black communities. And that's going to occur Saturday. And that's only because of pressure from black leadership.
So, Portland has responded very, very slowly to address racism in this city. It's not a question of dialogue. It's a question of action.
ALLEN: I understand. And I know that you have been a leader, a community leader trying to foster support for the black community there in Portland. And you know what? We hope to talk with you again as we see what's playing out in Portland and see if things change for the better for the black community. We really appreciate you joining us so much. And thank you for what you do. Ron Herndon in Portland. Thanks, Ron.
VAUSE: We will take a closer look now at how the police have been dealing with this crisis. Jim Bueermann is a former president of the Police Foundation and the former police chief of Redlands in California. Jim, Chief Bueermann, thank you so much for being with us.
These protests began with the death of one man. But since, you know, they've obviously grown in size and then now they've taken on a much bigger issue of police brutality and social justice. Just by my count, at least for protesters have died. Hundreds have been hurt to various degree. At least one police officer has been killed.
Does that indicate to you that in some places, at least, police departments seem to review the way they deal with the protests to put on the scale?
JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL POLICE FOUNDATION: Well, I think all police departments need to review how they deal with protests. What has worked for them, so far when it's clearly not working for them.
Police departments in the United States, you know, there is about 18,000 are different. Every one of them. They're like individuals. Some police departments do this really well. I understand that community dynamics and how to interact with people. Some police departments quite frankly just don't do a very good job with that.
VAUSE: Yes. The New York Times writer for the magazine Carvell Wallace posted this observation on Twitter.
Just want to point out that in demonstrations against police brutality, police, not law enforcement, they are counter protests.
So, the police are not law enforcement. They are counter protests according to the writer for New York magazine. So, can be the more aggressive moves by some law enforcement officials be explained by saying in many ways they are taking these protests personally?
BUEERMANN: Well, there is probably some truth to that. But remember that police departments are the arm of local government, or federal government, depending on what level you are talking about, whose mandate is to try to keep the peace.
The dynamics that occur in mass demonstrations like this, especially these that have been going on and, on are very complicated, and they're very stressful for both the protesters and the police officers. You'll see behind the skirmish line of officers, there are other officers. Those are frequently supervisors.
And part of their job is to try to keep the officers on the frontline calm, because they are being, in many instances, not all, but in many instances, they are being insulted, they are being spit on. There's a lot of things that are going on there that are increasing their agitation and their emotions. And sometimes, they are human beings. Sometimes, those emotions get out of control and they go off the rails.
VAUSE: And with that in mind, I would like you to listen to the police chief from Las Vegas talking about the situation there. Because there have been some high levels of violence directed towards police officers. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN GRANDA, POLICE OFFICER, ST. LOUIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: The incredible levels of violence that we saw last night are remarkable and should be unsettling to everyone that calls this place home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Sorry, that was St. Louis, not Las Vegas. But you get the point. Is there an easy explanation here for what's behind this sort of increased level of violence to the police?
BUEERMANN: Well, I think, you know, the high-level explanation is people are just outraged. And people have just had it. St. Louis County has a history of this. This is where Ferguson, Missouri is located. That area has a long history of problems with race relations and problems with the relationship between community and the police.
And as I said, that's where Ferguson was, and the St. Louis County Police Department was the major police department involved in that incident after the Michael Brown shooting.
So, there is a history there that is unique and different in many ways from history in other communities. Four St. Louis officers have been shot during this period. So that's probably what the sergeant was referring to in some regard.
I don't know that we know exactly why there is violence in one place and there isn't violence in another. Some of it has to do with the way police are handling things. But some it also has to do with the local community dynamics and some of the players there.
VAUSE: The owner of the store where the employees actually made that initial call to police because George Floyd has allegedly passed a counterfeit bill, they're sort of less shaken by how all of this played out. They are vowing in future to do things differently. I'd like you to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD ABUMAYYALEH, CO-OWNER, CUP FOODS: On behalf of Cup Food staff, we are not going to call the police unless there is a violent -- an act of violence going on. We feel like we can police our own matters. And unless there is a violent crime taking place, we think it's for the best interest of our staff and patrons that the police should not be called.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I'm just wondering. Is that just one small example of how over a period of time and a series of incidents that a community loses faith and confidence in the police?
BUEERMANN: Well, that's certainly an example. The issue of police legitimacy is a compelling issue that the police have been focusing on for a while. Some place very successfully, in some places not so successfully.
Look, the issue of trust and confidence, the people that are protected by public servants like the police is the number one issue that is, I think at the center of all of the tensions that we have. When people don't have a sense of confidence in the police. They don't trust them. They're not going to call them.
This gentleman obviously has some regrets about calling the police, because it ultimately resulted in Mr. Floyd's death. And when you see that happened repeatedly, in many instances and cases that are less serious than this, I mean, personally it breaks my heart because the police are supposed to be problem solvers.
Things that people forget is that in most states, especially mine, the home state of California, police officers by statute are called peace officers. And we should be focusing and this is part of the problem. Right?
The culture is not necessarily framed entirely around this notion that the people we call cops or police officers, are really peace officers. And they should be affecting the peace when they are perceived to do just the opposite of that. Then you get responses like this gentleman saying I will not call the cops unless I certainly have to.
VAUSE: Chief Bueermann, it's been great speaking with you. I've really enjoyed. I've learned a lot, so I'd like you to come back sometime. It's been great having you with us. Thank you.
BUEERMANN: Any time. Good luck to you.
VAUSE: Thank you.
ALLEN: Ahead here, Donald Trump has been blaming violence across the country on extremist and seeking to, quote, "dominate them."
CNN looks into his claims, coming up this hour.
VAUSE: Also, 21 seconds of silence, as the Canadian prime minister struggled to find the right words to describe Donald Trump's response to the racial protests across the U.S. Yes, he does eventually speak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for allowing us to talk and to (Inaudible). We pray all this in your mighty and holy name, in Jesus name. Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: In a show of solidarity, demonstrators around the world have been protesting the death of George Floyd in the United States. Tens of thousands speaking out against racism and police brutality.
VAUSE: In Paris, thousands took to the streets on Tuesday to protest an incident strikingly similar to the George Floyd case.
CNN's Melissa Bell reports from Paris.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a while, Paris looked like an American city. Protesters tear gassed as they demonstrated against police brutality. But here, their focus was on the death of Adama Traore, the 24-year-old Frenchman nearly four years ago just after he was taken into police custody for fleeing an identity check. Adama Traore's sister who called for the protest believes the similarities with the George Floyd case are striking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASSA TRAORE, ADAMA TRAORE'S SISTER (through translator): They died in the exact same way. They carried the weight of three police officers, three cops on them. They had the same words, I can't breathe, I can't breathe. And that was the end for George Floyd, and that was the end for Adama Traore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: A new medical report ay the blame for Traore's death on underlying health conditions that his family says he didn't have. The Gendarmes' lawyer believes they should now be cleared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODOLPHE BOSSELUT, GENDARMES' LAWYER (through translator): The Traore family are surfing in a wave of approximations and lies and true comparison does not stand up. The Floyd case has absolutely nothing to do with the case of Adama Traore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: But many of the protesters who came here today clearly were inspired by events over in the United States. You can see it on some of the signs. You can see it on their t-shirts and in many of the chants. Also, by this sense that here in France too, all too often, allegations of police brutality have gone unpunished.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILE COUDRIOU, PRESIDENT, AMNESTY NTERNATIONAL FRANCE: We have too few cases proving that policemen can be brought to court and can sentenced to jail and not simply a suspended sentence. But that's what brings also outrage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: Outrage that turned to violence on Tuesday evening as police struggled to contain the anger unleashed against them.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
VAUSE: Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took 21 long seconds to find the right words when asked about President Trump's handling of the unrest across the United States. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw protesters tear gassed yesterday to make way for a presidential photo-op. I'd like to ask you what you think about that. And if you don't want to comment, what message do you think you are sending?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: We all watch in horror and consternation what's going on in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: That was 20 long, quiet seconds there for him to respond. Elsewhere though, across the world, there has been immense international reaction to what is happening in the United States.
And CNN's Nic Robertson joins us from London to tell us more about it. Good morning, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Good morning, Natalie. I mean it's touching so many different countries. The Philippines yesterday there were protests Black Lives Matter protest there in support of anger and frustration about what happened to George Floyd.
Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, the list really does go on. But I think, you know, to the point of what Justin Trudeau was saying there, it's notable that we haven't had any leaders in Europe so far and stand up -- stand up and say that yes, we have problems in our countries as well and we need to identify and tackle those problems.
There is very strong statement, and have been very strong statements by a number of European leaders. And perhaps, the strongest ones so far, has come from the European Union Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, who said very clearly that what happened to George Floyd was an abuse of power.
And he goes on to say that, you know, we must look out for human rights, protect the freedoms and liberties that democracy, you know, provides for. So, I think there is -- there's certainly been strong words. There is certainly, more protests expected here. There will be one in the U.K. expected later today. And again, over the weekend to protest the plan.
But what Justin Trudeau said, I don't think we really have seen another European leader yet reach -- reach as far as Justin Trudeau did.
ALLEN: Right. It was an awkward pause for him to be sure. But it has been tremendous, the outpouring of support around the world for what this family and this country is going through right now.
Nic Robertson for us in London. Nic, thank you.
VAUSE: Well, the parents of a 17-year-old indigenous boy in Australia, are calling for charges against the police officer who violated arrested their son. A video taken by an onlooker shows a junior constable kicking the boy's legs out from under him. The teen suffered minor injuries to his face and knee and was released without charges.
The police officer has not been named, but has been placed on restricted duties. We don't know what happened before what is seen here on the video. Police allege the boy threatened the officer.
New South Wales police station declined to comment to CNN, but the assistant police commissioner did address the matter in a news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK WILLING, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE: This is not the United States of America. And we have very, very good relations with our local community. And I'm concerned that people will preempt the outcomes of this investigation and draw conclusions prior to that outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Meanwhile, hundreds turned out in Sydney to protest the death of George Floyd in the U.S., as well the mistreatment of indigenous Australians by local police.
ALLEN: While he pushes an aggressive response to protesters, Donald Trump visits another place of prayer. Ahead, hear why a Catholic leader calls the visit baffling and reprehensible.
VAUSE: It's 3.30 here in the United States. We'd like to welcome our viewers in the U.A. and all around the world. I'm John Vause at the CNN center.
ALLEN: I'm here too, Natalie Allen. Thank you so much for being with us.
VAUSE: I'm glad you're here, even if you're in another room somewhere. It's nice to have you around.
Well, protests against police brutality are showing no sign of letting up in U.S. Many are growing in size with each passing day. Possibly because of President Trump's inflammatory words and a heavy-handed approach which includes a threat to deploy the military.
ALLEN: But as he talks tough, he has also visited not one but two places of prayer.
Kaitlan Collins tells us why those visits are so controversial.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump visited another iconic church in D.C. today while still facing fierce backlash for his trip to a historical church near the White House yesterday after peaceful protesters were aggressively cleared from the streets using smoke, flash bangs, and shields.
The president and first lady Melania Trump stood before a shrine honoring Pope John Paul II in a trip to the Catholic Archbishop of Washington called baffling and reprehensible. Welton Gregory said the facility was being misused and manipulated and asserted that the late Pope would not condone the use of tear gas or other deterrents to silence, scatter, or intimidate protestors.
Trump has faced heavy criticism for his visit to St. John's Church which police say protesters partially set on fire, Sunday. But Trump, who rarely attends church services, did not go inside to tour the damage or stop to pray. Instead, he took photos outside, and used a bible as a prop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that your bible?
COLLINS: Sources told CNN the president wanted to be seen outside the White House grounds because he was angered by reports that he had been rushed to an underground bunker during Friday's protest. Today, a Justice Department official confirmed that Attorney General Bill Barr asked for the protestors to be pushed back on Monday. Washington's mayor called the use of force shameful.
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-WASHINGTON D.C.): I didn't see any provocation that would warrant the deployment of munitions.
COLLINS: Most Republicans have either defended the president or remained quiet. One exception is Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who said in a statement, that while there is no right to riot or throw rocks at police, I'm against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo-op that treats the word of god as a political prop. Joe Biden accused the president of feigning the flames of hate and criticized him for posing with the bible.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president held up the bible at St. John's church yesterday. I just wish he opened it once in a while.
COLLINS: Ignoring the criticism, President Trump congratulated himself on Twitter today saying D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests, overwhelming force domination. Likewise Minneapolis was great. Thank you President Trump. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, Washington.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Rarely does the former U.S. President George W. Bush make any public comment. So it is notable he is speaking out about the killing of George Floyd, and he is calling for the nation to examine its tragic failures.
America's greatest challenge has long been to unite people of very different backgrounds, into a single nation of justice and opportunity. The doctrine inhabits of racial superiority, which once nearly split our country, still threaten our union. The answers to America's problems are found by living up to American ideals.
So the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal and endowed by God with certain rights. Former president Barack Obama has also spoken out against bigotry and racism in the U.S. in the days after Floyd's death. Natalie.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Politicians back here in the United States want you to think that there are a lot of extremists stirring up protests like this. We'll tell you what our CNN investigation found, though, just ahead.
VAUSE: There's been a lot of speculation about just who is protesting and who is causing trouble. How the activists from the far right, are they from the far left? Are they just far out? Politicians have made the most of the confusion amid the chaos to score some cheap political points.
ALLEN: That is true, John, but there's really not much evidence for any of that. Our colleague Drew Griffin investigated for us and found that for the most part, a whole cross section of American society is taking part. Here he is.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Search selected video 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have evidences to where they are from or what their ideology may be.
GRIFFIN: Though, Minnesota's governor said outsiders share the blame for the destruction, CNN's review shows 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 continual police murder of black people. And -- 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 protestors. Also, those that just don't seem to fit any category.
Ryan Teeter goes to protests 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.
RYAN TEETER, BOOGALOO GROUP MEMBER: 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 called right wing but a leading expert on extremism said it's hard to categorize. Boogaloo is a slang for civil revolutionary war, says GWU extremism expert JJ McNaab. But says, there are sub groups and they lack cohesions. Some support Trump, support police, some, even white supremacists. Others hate the president, hate police, and love the black protestors. Ryan Teeter calls himself a left anarchist.
TEETER: There's no version of this where the police are not the ones at fault. The protestors 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, that he says, rejects violence and racism.
LEVI HICKS, BOOGALOO GROUP MEMBER: What we stand for is the peaceful disassembling 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 anyway.
GRIFFIN: So the -- 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 the other person. I would never, in any concept, recommend that anybody murder a police officer.
GRIFFIN: Radical, political theorist and author George Ciccariello- Mar says the protests go beyond any labels.
GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAR, AUTHOR AND POLITICAL SCIENTIST: What we're seeing, as I said, is the end of a trajectory that is gone more than 10 years of growing consciousness, growing resistance, and a growing willingness to honestly confront the powers that continue to oppress certain communities.
GRIFFIN: And that is what we are seeing across the country. More and more differing groups of people, joining together, to form one large protest. Making it difficult for politicians, especially those who try to divide people, from ignoring this. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: For more on this, I am joined by Mark Bray. He is the author
of Antifa, the anti-fascist handbook. Mark, thank you for joining us.
ALLEN: Well, as we just saw in the story, as far as various groups getting involved in these protests, it's complicated. Some support Trump. Support police. Some white supremacists. Others hate the president. Hate police. Support the black protestors. You wrote the book on Antifa. Can you give us the cliff notes here? Who are they? What do they stand for? And where do you think they are in the mashup of these protests?
BRAY: Right. So, Antifa is short for Antifascist in a variety of languages. The history of antifascist goes back to a 100 years to you know, radicals who resisted Hitler and Mussolini but more recently, we can see especially since Trump's election in 2016, the rise of alt- right. That Antifa has burst onto the main stream as a kind of radical self-defense against the far-right.
They were on the streets resisting white supremacists in Charlottesville. When Heather Heyer was tragically killed by a fascist. And more recently, as many viewers may know, they were blamed for much of the destruction being -- that has come out of the protests from the death of George Floyd. Which really, in my opinion, is a transparent ploy by the Trump administration to distract attention away from the role of white supremacy in the criminal justice system.
ALLEN: How organized are they? What are the numbers? You mention, in a recent article, a group in Portland, Oregon. Can you use them as an example here?
BRAY: Well, you see, the trouble there because this is the question everyone's asking. How many people are part of Antifa? Antifa isn't one organization. It's a kind of politics. It's a decentralized form of activism. And there are groups around the country. One of the most active and oldest is Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon.
They don't publicize their membership because they don't want to be infiltrated by white supremacists or by law enforcement. So we don't actually know how many members they have. But, as a point of reference, you can see that when these groups in major cities mobilize, they don't get more than a couple hundred people. And they're more active in some regions than others.
So, to say that Antifa is responsible for all of the destruction in a protest/movement and an uprising that is the biggest we've seen in 50 years is ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that the nation just leaked an FBI report claiming that they had no evidence that Antifa had anything to do with the May 31st property destruction.
ALLEN: So, one asks the question, why is the Trump administration pointing so much of the blame at them?
BRAY: Right. So -- so we have a profound crisis in the United States. Where generations and generations of white supremacy, embodied in the police killing black people, has boiled over the surface. Where you have -- you have uprisings around the country. Average, everyday people, and people of all sorts, enraged by the inability of the system to adjust.
Starting to question whether it's possible to even reform the police or the prison system. And if you say instead of addressing those questions, those very difficult questions, as being fringed and you know, clandestine. Then, that is a way to avoid having to address these really substantive issues. And as a side note, a way to sort of incriminate the Democratic Party because the common far-right talking point is that Antifa is like the private army of the Democrats. Which is -- it couldn't be further from the truth.
ALLEN: Are they, to some extent, diluting the message that the citizens that aren't part of their beliefs that they're trying to achieve on the streets right now?
BRAY: Well, I see, I think it's hard to say that there is only one message, right? There's some protestors saying we need to reform the police. There are others who are saying that we need to think of alternatives to the police. We need to defund the police or abolish the police. And there's a wide range of perspectives. There are so few members of Antifa, in general, that to say that they really have anything significant to do with this protest is kind of a far-right talking point.
But I think that we need to think about what are the transformative potentials of challenging the status quo, not being content with the usual empty talk by politicians that say that we can fix it. When we've seen that hasn't happened. And think about what an alternative could look like to the system that keeps on killing.
ALLEN: Well, we appreciate your input. Again, you wrote the book Antifa the anti-fascist handbook, Mark Bray. Thanks so much for your insights, Mark.
BRAY: Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, protesting for justice in the midst of a pandemic and the growing fears it could be the perfect breeding ground for another coronavirus outbreak. Warnings from America's top doctor, when we come back.
ALLEN: The top U.S. expert on infectious diseases is expressing cautious optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci says a candidate from biotech company Moderna could enter its final phase of trials by midsummer. If it proves effective, he says the U.S. could have millions of doses ready by the end of the year.
The U.S. surgeon general warns more coronavirus cases could emerge from the protests going on across the country. Jerome Adams says there is very reason to expect new clusters of the virus going forward. But as CNN's Nick Watt reports, the U.S. hasn't even contained its current outbreak.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This country is still adding around 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day, every day. While our attention is elsewhere, on protests, it might make this pandemic even worse.
BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I'm very worried, also, that protest is leading to the potential of the spread of the coronavirus. That is not a minor matter, at this point. One day, two days, that is one thing. As this continued, that danger is increasing.
WATT: Colorado, now providing masks for protestors, and new research published by the Lancet confirms they work. Exposed to this virus, unmasked, the chance of infection is 17.4 percent. With a mask, it tumbles to just 3.1.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no doubt, at all, that this is something that we should all be doing.
WATT: Some places, like New York, are, right now, doing better.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Number of new covid cases walking in the door is at an all-time low.
WATT: But, in those red states, daily new case counts are still climbing. The West Coast, all red. California, setting new highs this week. South Carolina. An early reopener, now deep red.
DR. TOM INGLESBY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: States numbers are going up in new cases. We need to watch it really carefully.
WATT: One of the first hotspots on American soil was a nursing home near Seattle, a grim important. Federal data now shows around a quarter of all U.S. covid deaths, to date, were nursing home residents, 26,000 people. The impact of all this will last long, emotionally and economically. The U.S. economy could take 10 years to recover. Output, says the Congressional budget office, might fall nearly $8 trillion in the coming decade due to a virus.
Now, President Trump, and others, speculated hope that summer heat might kill the virus, or at least slow the spread. Now that summer is here, we are told that is unlikely. The Director of the National Institutes of Health says that there's just not enough immunity among us for the heat to really ever become a factor. And he says that lack of immunity will, likely, be the primary force, helping spread this virus through the summer and into the fall. Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: And the president is looking for another state to host the
Republican National Convention. Trump took to the Twitter machine to slam the governor of North Carolina, because he would not guarantee the convention could be held without the usual coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings.
Those restrictions actually stop people from catching the virus and dying. Contractual obligations, though, mean part of the convention will still be held in Charlotte. But a Republican official tells CNN that Mr. Trump's acceptance speech will be held in that place called elsewhere.
ALLEN: All right. We have got much more ahead. Thank you for watching this hour.
VAUSE: We do?
ALLEN: Yes, we're still here. I'm Natali Allen.
VAUSE: One more hour to go. I'm John Vause. We will be back for another hour of news, right here, on CNN. Stay with us, please.