Return to Transcripts main page


Eight Night of Protests Over George Floyd's Death; Peaceful Protests in Washington Turn Violent; Quieter Night in New York After Chaotic Monday; Minnesota Capitol Protests Remain Peaceful; Australian Journalist Attacked by Police in Washington; The World Reacts to U.S. Unrest; Thousand Protest Racism and Police Brutality in Paris. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 3, 2020 - 04:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause live at the CNN center.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. It's now 4:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, 1:00 in the morning out West.

VAUSE: Well demonstrations have continued in towns and cities across the United States for an eighth straight night, with thousands of protesters violating overnight curfew orders.

ALLEN: Take a look at this, massive crowds from Washington to New York to Los Angeles and Seattle and many cities in between continuing their cries for equality and justice in what was a night of mostly peaceful demonstrations, a much calmer night than ones we've been seeing this week.

VAUSE: The flashpoint for all the nationwide anger and grief is the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis just over a week ago after a white police officer pinned him down with his knee on his neck for at least nine minutes.

ALLEN: Not long ago, a big flare-up in Washington after what had been a day of peaceful protests.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a good look at it right now. We're going to have to be careful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, be careful. Don't get too good a look at it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Press, press, press, press, press! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK?


That' CNN's Alex Marquardt was there.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Today we saw protesters returning in large numbers. The crowd swelled throughout the course of the day. It was entirely peaceful. People were energized. They were angry. They are passionate because of what had happened the day before, and they stood outside here just north of the White House. This is Lafayette Park, which is just in front of the White House. Chanting for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, chanting "Black Lives Matter" and all of the other chants we have heard throughout the course of these protests.

There was a curfew that went into effect around 7:00 p.m. The Washington, D.C., police decided not to enforce it. There was never really any altercation between law enforcement and protesters, anybody out here, until just after 12:30 a.m. that is when agitators decided to come up to this fencing here. This is new fencing on the edge of Lafayette Park. They started pushing it, seemingly trying to get through.

Now, there was a huge contingent of Washington, D.C., National Guard on the other side. They pressed forward, firing a number of different types of crowd control measures at those agitators, including pepper spray, which in fact hit us, as well as a combination of, we understand, pepper and tear gas pellets. And that drove the crowd back, it dispersed them, and now there are really only a few stragglers left.

But Natalie, I think the really important point is the vast majority of the protesters who have been out here for the past few days have been entirely peaceful. But as you know, once these protests get into the evening hours, as they wear on, things can change, and unfortunately, this day did end with violent clashes.


VAUSE: Well, the mayor of Seattle has extended the city's curfew through June 6th, as hundreds of protesters demonstrated on Tuesday. At least 14,000 complaints have been made about police conduct during protests held over the weekend. On Tuesday night, we saw a different tactic with some protesters using umbrellas as protection to avoid police spraying crowd control chemicals. In nearby Portland, Oregon, protesters lie down on the ground with their hands behind their backs like George Floyd, a symbolic gesture.

ALLEN: It was a similar story in New York as well, where there were also a couple hundred arrests across the city, mostly for curfew violations. But overall, it has been relatively calm with far less of the uncontrolled chaos we've seen the past couple of nights. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz was there. SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: At this hour

of the night, all we were hearing last night were sirens, police chasing the looters around town. And I want to show you just up the street. I mean, there are police cars that are driving around, you know, they have their lights on, but look how quiet it is. There is no one outside. And that's how it's been here for the better part of the night.

Behind me here is Union Square Park, which has been a gathering point here for many of the protesters. There was a lot of looting in this neighborhood. There's a lot of stores now boarded up. There was none of that here tonight. There has been some looting across Manhattan, but you know, it's important to say that we're just not seeing what we saw last night.

I will tell you, we're told by the NYPD, there were about 200 arrests tonight, and that's going to be curfew violations. There was some looting.


We and our team witnessed a couple of those incidents, but overall -- and I think it's important to note this -- it's now starting to rain, so that's going to help things along as well. Things much different here tonight.


VAUSE: Well, despite a 6:00 a.m. curfew in Los Angeles, protesters are still on the streets. They've been sitting on the ground, some of them with their hands in the air. Police say they will enforce violations along with any looting and criminal acts to the full extent of the law. The LAPD says hundreds have been arrested during these protests.

ALLEN: Police in Atlanta, Georgia, used tear gas to disperse protesters on Tuesday as the 9:00 p.m. curfew set in. According to police, 400 arrests have been made since Friday and curfews have been effective at reducing violence. Six Atlanta police officers face charges, though, for using excessive force to arrest two college students at a protest Saturday night. You see the officers yanking a woman out and tasing the driver. Two of the six officers have already been fired from the department for that. They all have until Friday to turn themselves in.

VAUSE: And in the city where George Floyd was killed, thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state capitol in Minnesota, still demanding justice. Only one person charged in Floyd's death, the police officer whose knee was on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Three other officers who were on the scene, and despite widespread demands for their arrest, they still have not been charged. Minnesota's Attorney General says everyone will be held accountable.


KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Already these people have been fired. I know that that is not enough to restore faith, but what we're doing is looking at the charges, looking at the behavior. And when we are ready, and that won't be long from now, we plan on taking the proper and deliberate action.


VAUSE: And those who knew and loved George Floyd are calling for justice. The mother of his 6-year-old daughter spoke Tuesday about the pain and loss the family is now feeling.


ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: I wanted everybody to know that this is what those officers took from. At the end the day, they get to go home and be with their family. Gianna does not have a father. I'm here for my baby and I'm here for George because I want justice for him.


VAUSE: With 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 former police chief of Redlands in California. Chief, thank you so much for being with us. These protests, they began with the death of one man, but since, they've obviously grown in size and they now are taking on a much bigger issue of police brutality and social justice. Just by my count, at least four protesters have died, hundreds have been hurt to various degrees, at least one police officer has been killed. Does that indicate to you that in some places, at least, police departments need to review the way they deal with the protests which are on this scale?

JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, POLICE FOUNDATION: Well, I think all police departments need to review how they deal with protests, what has worked for them so far, what has clearly not worked for them. Police departments in the United States -- you know, there's about 18,000 of them -- are different, everyone. They're like individuals. Some police departments do this really well, understand the community dynamics and how to interact with people, and some police departments, quite frankly, just don't do a very good job with that.

VAUSE: The writer -- for the magazine writer, Carvell Wallace posted this observation on Twitter.

Just want to point out that in demonstrations against police brutality, police are not law enforcement, they're counter protesters.

So, police are not law enforcement, they're counter protesters, according to the writers of "New York" magazine. So can the more aggressive moves by some law enforcement officials be explained by saying in many ways they're taking the protests personally?

BUEERMANN: Well, there's probably some truth to that. But remember that police departments are the arm of local government or federal government, depending what level you're talking about, whose mandate is to try to keep the peace. The dynamics that occur in a mass demonstration like this, especially these that have been going on and 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 front-line calm. Because they're being in many instances, not all, but in many instances, they're being insulted, they're 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, and sometimes those emotions get out of control and they go off the rails a bit.

VAUSE: And with that in mind, I'd 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.


SGT. BEN GRANDA, 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.


VAUSE: So, that's 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, a high-level explanation is people are just outraged and people have just had it. St. Louis county has a history. This is where Ferguson, Missouri, is located, and that area has a long history of problems with race relations and problems in 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's 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's 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 it also has to do with the local community dynamics and some of the players there.

VAUSE: The owner of the store where the employee actually made that initial call to police because George Floyd had allegedly passed a counterfeit bill, they've been left shaken by how all this played out. They're vowing in the future they do things differently. I like you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAHMOUD ABUMAYYALEH, CUP FOODS CO-OWNER: On behalf of Cup Foods staff, we're not going to call the police unless it's an act of violence going on. We feel like we can police our own matters. And unless there's a violent crime taking place, we think it's for the best interests of our staff and patrons that the police should not be called.


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 places very successfully, some places not so successfully. Look it, 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 tension that we have. When people don't have a sense of confidence in 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 happen repeatedly in many instances, in 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 my home state, 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 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 that says I'm not calling the cops unless I absolutely have to.

Chief Bueermann, it's been great speaking to you. I really enjoyed it. 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.

ALLEN: One of the most controversial members of the U.S. Congress will not be back next year. Iowa Republican Steve King has lost his primary race to a state senator, according to CNN's projection. King was stripped of his committee assignments last year when he questioned how the terms white nationalist and white supremacist became offensive. The nine-term Congressman has a history of other racist remarks. He was even banned from Air Force One when President Trump visited Iowa.

VAUSE: Still ahead here, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then what about a White House photo op where security forces used tear gas and flashbangs to clear out peaceful protesters? We'll hear some of the outraged words when we come back. ALLEN: Also ahead here, protesters around the world are turning their

attention to issues of racism and police violence in their own countries. The message from the streets of Paris. That's coming right up.



ALLEN: Australia's Prime Minister is calling for an investigation after police in Washington attacked two of the country's journalists during Monday's protests. The incident unfolded live on air.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've also seen tear gas being used. Here we go. They're moving through again. This is exactly what it looks like, exactly what it looks like.



VAUSE: Seven news U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace and photojournalist Tim Myers were trapped against a wall when police attempted to move protesters on. An officer was struck Myers and his camera while another officer appears to his Brace with a baton.

ALLEN: The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 125 press freedom violations have been reported in the U.S. by journalists covering these protests.

We continue to see examples of solidarity all around the world. Crowds in Sydney here joining the protest movement Tuesday. Protesters taking a knee outside the U.S. consulate there.

For more on the international reaction to the killing of George Floyd, let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson in London.


It seems like these protests to support the United States and what it's going through just keep growing.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And we've just heard from the Pope as well in his prayers this morning talking about the killing being tragic, being disturbing, talking about the protesters, while we can't tolerate in our societies racism, but he goes on to say that, you know, the violence that we're seeing in the protests, that's self-destructive. But you very clearly hear the Pope taking a position on this issue, as he does, that what the world is witnessing happening in the United States is not right. So, this is a very, very senior figure making a very, very strong point here.

We've also heard from the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, saying that this is inexcusable and that this must stop. Also saying that people's rights, dignities and democracies must be upheld. So, there's a very clear sense here in Europe that what's being witnessed in the United States is not right, that people don't want to see it. And the protests in support of George Floyd, black lives matter movement as well, have been very strong, in Germany in particular, in Ireland, both north and south of the border, here in the U.K., another protest planned this afternoon. We've seen protesters as well in the Netherlands.

And it's not just Europe, of course. New Zealand, Australia, for example, we're seeing them in Kenya, we're seeing them in the Philippines, Greece. There was a protest there as well, the black lives matter protest there yesterday. So, this is something that is absolutely resonating across the world, and no greater demonstration of that, if you will, than the leader of the Catholic faith putting his words to this issue as well.

ALLEN: Right. And you know, we saw earlier the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, have an awkward 20-second silence after being asked about the White House clearing peaceful protesters for that awkward photo op for President Trump. You mentioned the Pope and you mentioned the European Union official. What about leaders of countries in Europe. Have they had something to say?

ROBERTSON: You know, we heard from the foreign secretary in the U.K. saying that, essentially, that you know, the world is watching and that he hopes for stability to be restored to the United States and that the events that have been witnessed are tragic and unnecessary. I think what we heard from Justin Trudeau goes beyond what I've heard so far, at least from other leaders. To admitting that there is a problem in his own country. We haven't heard European leaders stand up and say that. We haven't heard Boris Johnson, for example, say that racism is an issue in the U.K. in the same way that Justin Trudeau did. Justin Trudeau, obviously, you know, has his own checkered past in that regard, and perhaps feels this and the issue more keenly.

But it was interesting. You know, when we were talking, when CNN and other journalists were talking to reporters just outside Downing Street at a protest there over the weekend, they made it very plain that there is racism here in the U.K., and that will be certainly felt in many other European countries, absolutely, without a doubt. But we haven't had leaders there yet stand up and say this is an issue that we also must address and must face.

ALLEN: All right. Nic Robertson for us in London. Thank you, Nic -- John.

VAUSE: Natalie, thousands took to the streets of the French capital on Tuesday, but this protest was over another case of police brutality with striking parallels to the George Floyd case. We get details now from CNN's Melissa Bell reporting in from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 died nearly four years ago, just after he was taken into police custody for failing an identity check. Adama Traore, his sister, who called for the protest, believes the similarities with the George Floyd case are striking.

ASSA TRAORE, SISTER OF ADAMA TRAORE (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.

BELL: A new medical report blamed laid 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.

RODOLPHE BOSSELUT, GENDARMES' LAWYER (through translator): The Traore family are suffering 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.


BELL (on camera): 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.

CECILE COUDRIOU, PRESIDENT, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL FRANCE: We have too few cases proving that a policemen can be brought to court and can be sentenced to jail and not simply a suspended sentence, but that's what brings also outrage.

BELL (voice-over): Outrage that turned to violence on Tuesday evening as police struggled to contain the anger unleashed against them.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


ALLEN: A moment ago when I was talking with Nic Robertson, I referenced the awkward silence from the Canadian Prime Minister when asked about a particular protest in the U.S. we'll show that to you right after this.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. And we'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks so much for being with us. Let's give you the latest on the protests that are sweeping across the United States for the eighth straight night. Demonstrators and police are still out in full force in a number of cities, although protests have been largely peaceful. VAUSE: In New York, protesters ignored an earlier 8:00 p.m. curfew.

Police made at least 40 arrests. And in Washington, what started out as a peaceful demonstration turned relatively tense as the National Guard used pepper spray on protesters not far from the White House. Also in Seattle, protesters there used umbrellas to try and block chemicals which are being sprayed as a form of crowd control by security officials. And crowds of people dressed in black stood on the steps of the state capitol in Boise, Idaho.