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Peaceful Protesters Defy Curfews, No Widespread Looting; Obama To Address Floyd Death And Unrest Today. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 3, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around world. This is New Day.

And this morning, millions of Americans waking up wanting to know how did it go last night. What was it like on the streets? Also, the question what movement is there toward justice following the death of George Floyd?

As to the streets, it did seem more calm overall, with curfews in place in many cities. In New York, protesters marched peacefully on the Manhattan Bridge only to be blocked by police. There were isolated pockets of violence, vandalism and looting in the city, bout 300 arrests. This is some new video of damage downtown.

There were also some tense moments outside the White House when police fired pepper spray at demonstrators who started shaking a newly erected fence in Lafayette Park.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: George Floyd's funeral is planned for next Tuesday. CNN reports that former Vice President Biden is planning to attend that service. A Floyd family lawyer says he expects the other three police officers in this case to be charged before that funeral.

And we're hearing for the first time from Floyd's daughter and her mother. We'll play you their reaction in a moment.

But we begin with the coverage with CNN's Brynn Gingras. She is live in New York City with our top story. So, how have these past hours gone?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, you know what, there was a significant difference. There is some good news there. It does seem that the curfew, the fact that many of the parts of Manhattan were shut down, the fact that there were mounted police, the fact that Uber and Lyft and other rideshare programs were disabled, all of these scene to add up and possibly turned the tide on the violence that we have been seeing in this city.

Now, listen, that doesn't mean we didn't see any. You can see here behind me this Starbucks in the East Village was shattered. And as I walk over here, really, this entire street was hit. You could this FedeEx as well.

Police did say there are at least 300 arrests right now at this point. There could be more as we learn later in the morning. But overall, the protests did seem peaceful, not only here but also across the country.


GINGRAS: The nationwide movement of Americans raising their voices, and sometimes using silence to show their outrage over the death of George Floyd while understand arrest by Minneapolis police. It continued for the eighth day.

All day, New Yorkers organized peaceful demonstrations sometimes by the thousands. These nurses, essential healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic taking a moment to join in. Overnight, some protesters pushing past the city's 8:00 P.M. curfew imposed after scenes like this Monday night showing looters breaking into stores in Manhattan and there were still some tension between the NYPD and protesters, police arresting at least 200 of them last night.

Authorities preventing demonstrators from exiting one end of the Manhattan Bridge for a period of time. Earlier, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blasting mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD's handling of protesters, calling it inexcusable.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The police in New York City were not effective at doing their job. They have to do a better job. But separate the protesters from the looting.

GINGRAS: Floyd's family members joining tens of thousands of protesters at a march in Houston.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-HOUSTON, TX): So today, we want to love all them. We want them to know that George did not die in vain.

GINGRAS: While in Minnesota, thousands met in front of the state capitol as Floyd's six-year-old daughter, Gianna, and her mother made a first public appearance since his death.

ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: I wanted everybody to know that this is what those officers --

GINGRAS: In the nation's capitol, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial filled with National Guardsmen. Below, a diverse crowd meeting in solidarity.


Protests in front of the White House were also mostly calm until just after midnight with tension growing during a standoff between remaining demonstrators and authorities. A large police presence in Atlanta with tear gas deployed on protesters there after the city reached its curfew last night.

And in Los Angeles, police arresting a small group of protesters outside the mayor's residence overnight after thousands gathered there during the day and in other parts of the city.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-LOS ANGELES, CA): I'm proud of protesters across this city who are peacefully expressing themselves.


GINGRAS: Now, back here live in New York, it's unclear if we're going to see those massive street closures, those obvious changes in police tactics. Although tonight, the curfew again is 8:00. The mayor admitting that 11:00 curfew, he said, on Monday night was just not effective, as you saw in my piece the mayor and the governor of New York trading insults about how this response has been.

So we will see later today how both of them reacting to how last night went. Again, also guys, it rained here, poured here overnight. So that also might have helped the situation. So we'll have to see how it goes later today.

CAMEROTA: Yes. We will we'll see how the next hours unfold. Brynn, thank you very much.

The mother of George Floyd's six-year-old daughter speaking publicly for the first time, as state officials in Minnesota launch a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us live with the latest. Omar?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, more than a week after George Floyd's death, the pain is still very raw for those that knew him best. We sat down with his daughter, Gianna, six years old, the mother of that daughter, Roxie Washington, Steven Jackson, a friend and former NBA player and Chris Stewart their lawyer.

And they told me he moved from Houston, Texas to Minneapolis to find work to provide for the family, a family, they say he was very much present for.

So I asked the mother how she even began to try and explain what had happened to George Floyd to their six-year-old daughter. And she says, at first, she couldn't.

WASHINGTON: She was standing by the door. She said, Mama, something going on with my family. And I said, why you say that? She said, because I hear them saying my dad's name on T.V. She wanted to know how he died. And the only thing that I can tell her is he couldn't breathe.

STEPHEN JACKSON, FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD'S, FORMER NBA PLAYER: We have to get conviction. That's what we're talking about. We have to get conviction. These tears are from real pain. And the only way they're going to stop is these convictions.

L. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING ROXIE WILLIAMS: It's just accountability. A cop hurt somebody, he gets arrested, not just fired. They should also fear going to jail instead of being able to just transfer to another county, because that's what happened. They get fired from one, they go work for another. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: And Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading this investigation, has said it won't be long until they take proper and deliberate action as the family attorney says they expect to see charges against these other officers before Floyd is laid to rest early next week.

Also, let's remember why we're seeing these protests. It's not just about Floyd's death. It's about trying to changing the culture on policing overall. It's part of why the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has launched a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department looking back at their practices over the course of the past ten years.

And, of course, all of this comes as we're set to see a series of memorials for Floyd beginning tomorrow here in Minneapolis through his funeral for Tuesday. And while I personally didn't hear much from six- year-old Gianna as we sat down, this is how she's describing her father.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Daddy has changed the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy changed the world.


JIMENEZ: And tomorrow begins the first memorial we will see here in Minneapolis, again, ahead of the funeral on Tuesday for her father, who she says who changed the world.

BERMAN: Daddy changed the world. Our heart goes out to her. It remains to be seen. I mean, the investigation, the civil rights investigation in Minnesota is actually a concrete step, one of the few concrete steps that we've seen over the last week in Minnesota or around the country. So we'll see what happens. Omar, thank you very much.

In Washington, D.C., police are creating a larger perimeter around the White House complex to keep protesters even further away. This is after a day of largely the peaceful protests did have tense moments overnight. CNN's Boris Sanchez live in Washington with the very latest, obviously, in front of some of this troop deployment. Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. Since early this morning, we saw law enforcement officers being mobilized behind that eight-foot gate that was keeping protesters out of Lafayette Park just outside of the White House.


Soon, they moved past the gate and they effectively asked us to move back an entire block, closing out a radius around Lafayette Park, limiting access only to municipal workers and a few other key officials.

Just a moment ago, a bus dropped off several dozen more law enforcement officers. It appears that along with the Bureau of Prisons, we have local police in riot gear as well.

I want to take a look. Two demonstrators have already shown up, really the response sending a message to the protesters. And it's unclear if this is going to last the rest of the day, because this is very different than the crowds that we saw gathering yesterday.

Again, as you said, peaceful throughout the day, peaceful when the 7:00 P.M. curfew came and went. Things really changed just before 1:00 A.M. though. That's when some of the protesters started pushing that eight-foot gate outside Lafayette Park.

Law enforcement responded by getting right up against that fence. Some of the protesters throwing water bottles and milk over the fence. The response was pepper spray, pepper balls until the crowd dispersed.

Again, the militarized image now is causing an investigation, because there has been this military helicopter that we've heard this morning, several of them have been flying in D.C. over the last few days.

And D.C. National Guard is now investigating an incident that happened with one of those choppers on Monday night flying at a very low altitude using the air from its rotors to try to disperse protesters. The message being sent here clearly that a heavy hand is ready to be used if the protesters get out of line. John, Alisyn?

BERMAN: All right. Boris Sanchez on the streets there, we can see the troops behind you, just two protesters right now. Clearly, those troops handling those protesters. Boris Sanchez, thank you very much.

A varied response from leaders across the country, past, present and perhaps future, that's next.



BERMAN: Later today, former President Obama will make first public remarks about the violence gripping America in the wake of George Floyd's death. Actually, I think the important thing to talk about here is that he'll make his first public remarks since the death of George Floyd, this as CNN learns that Vice President Joe Biden is planning to attend Floyd's funeral.

Joining us now is CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney, she's a former senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign, and Astead Herndon, he is the National Politics Reporter at The New York Times.

Astead, let's talk about Joe Biden, because it is interesting to see how the former vice president is addressing this. He has come out of his house to address this now multiple times. Part of that is the changes in the pandemic in Delaware. He was able to get out of his house. But part of it, I think, is also the severity of the moment. And I want you to listen to what he said yesterday in Philadelphia.


JOE BIDEN, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE: Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield driven by old resentments and fresh fears. He thinks division helps him. His narcissism has become more important than a nation's well-being that he leads.

I ask every American, I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I ask every American, look at where we are now and think anew. Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be?


BERMAN: Astead, a bunch of different levels to this, frankly. Number one, Joe Biden talking about race and addressing this moment, but it also allows him to frame it how he kicked off his entire election, by asking is this who we want to be, the soul of America.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. It is extremely relevant to the theme we saw him used throughout the primary, restoring the soul of the country. I think he's trying to do a couple of things in that speech. He's trying to, one, show the leadership that he believes that President Trump has not shown. So he's leaving his own house and trying to create a contrast in leadership styles that can speak to folks across the ideological spectrum, showing he's someone who could rise to a moment when a crisis calls out for that.

He's also trying to do what Joe Biden is very good at, which is speak to folks' emotions, talk empathetically and really connect with people on a healer level. He wants to see himself as a unifying figure, and that's what he's trying to do.

But he's changed his language also. Although he's focused on President Trump, he is saying things like, we need to root out systemic racism. That was not kind of tied to the Joe Biden message of going into the primary or the Senate career. That's something that he's had a criticism for from people, particularly younger activists who have been leading these protests.

But we don't know if they're going to trust that that's something that he believes. That has to be backed up not only with words of saying I think that systemic racism should be rooted out, but policies address that issue. We have yet sort of to really see that to combine. And I think that's probably the next step, but, particularly what the younger activists, the ones driving who are these protests want to see from the nominee.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Karen. We're also going to hear today from former President Obama. He had already posted a post about this on medium. But today, he's going to be speaking live at 5:00 P.M. Eastern in a live streaming event.

And I'm just wondering, because you are a political communications guru, if you were advising the Biden campaign, would you advise Joe Biden to enlist these services more of former President Obama and Michelle Obama?

I mean, arguably, two -- the two most popular politicians or former politicians, or politician adjacent, people in the country, do you think they have a role to play somehow in the Biden campaign?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And I think President Obama speaking out today is going to be so important. We're experiencing a complete collapse in vacuum of leadership in this country. And so that is why I think you see leaders like President Obama and George W. Bush sort of stepping into that gap to try to offer words of healing and words of understanding.


Because we have to remember, Alisyn, this is a trauma that is generations in the making. When we talk systemic racism and when we talk about the legacy of the confederacy and slavery. And so for President Obama, his voice is so important, Michelle Obama, her voice is so important. There is no question they are important to the Biden campaign and reaching out to all voters, not just African-American voters.

But I just want to follow-up on one thing that Astead said, which is it is wonderful what we're seeing from Vice President Biden, no question. His -- he will, no question, undoubtedly be a much better leader on these issues than what we're seeing now.

And while, yes, he was President Obama's vice president and he has his own record, now is the moment, and I think he's starting to do this and he's doing this, is to show that you understand what is happening now in 2020. Not just what your record was in the past, but what fresh ideas do you have to move our country forward, yes, to bring healing, but to bring real policy change.

And the thing I think he needs to do, and I hope he'll do this, is to sit down privately with some of the protesters, some of the community organizers and hear directly from them.

BERMAN: So, Astead, as we're sitting here, the president, perhaps with a lack of impulse control, is just tweeting words in caps, saying like, law and order. And yesterday, we saw, silent majority. But what's interesting to me as he blurts out these words is I don't know, first of all, there may never have been a silent majority during Nixon when the phrase was coined, but I don't know if there is a silent majority now, how they feel about things today. And I mean. I genuinely don't know.

When I see the outpouring of statements from companies, corporations whose main interest is the bottom line, talking about black lives matter, literally saying black lives matter now in ways that they wouldn't have five years ago, it's possible that the sentiment, the public sentiment right now is in a different place than the president thinks. I'm just not sure.

What do you think or what questions do you have about what the silent majority is most concerned about right now?

HERNDON: I think that's a great point. This is even different from the kind of original black lives matter movement that we saw that exploded under President Obama. We did not necessarily see the kind of widespread adoption of activist language and of support not only from corporations but from people across the political aisle.

I mean, to use the most extreme example, you had Pat Robertson yesterday say that President Trump's response wasn't the best. And that's not necessarily because of a sympathy to the cause of the protesters but just because of the outrageousness of what we saw coming from Washington and the White House.

I think you have to, for -- on the kind of electoral sense, you have to separate people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 from Donald Trump's base, right. And so the silent majority, these people that he's speaking to, the hardcore conservative voter overwhelmingly white that Trump oftentimes is talking to, that base is not enough to simply win him the election. It has to be combined with some people who were sympathetic towards the president in the 2016 election.

He might be speaking to that core group of people, but if the side of sympathy is not with the larger apparatus that helped bring him to office, then that's going to be the type of people that Joe Biden can make inroads on.

So, sometimes we can conflate the idea of his base and the larger group that helped him win in 2016.

CAMEROTA: And, yet, Karen, you see Republicans in Congress struggling. When they are asked -- when correspondents are posing questions to them about, were you comfortable with what President Trump did in terms of clearing the peaceful protesters out of the way with batons, et cetera, so that the president could have a photo-op in front of a church, were you comfortable? They either go silent, say, I didn't see the whole thing, or try to -- there are exceptions. Ben Sasse has spoken out about it. But they can't -- I think that it is too soon for them to know if they can criticize the president as an election approaches.

FINNEY: You know, I have to tell you, Alisyn. I mean, it's just not credible to say you didn't see it. I mean, how could you not see it? It was everywhere. We were talking about it as a country. We've been watching what's happening. So that was just not credible.

And from a communications perspective, what you say and when you say it and how you say it and what you don't say all matter, right?


Because in this moment, that's what people are looking for and listening for.

And Mitch McConnell, for him to say, well I'm not going to criticize someone else's actions. He had an incident in Louisville, Kentucky. Where is he? It should not be hard. This, for so many of us, and I think this is part of why it's so important that these protests remain peaceful and that we see -- it's intergenerational, it's multicultural, multiracial, it's all across the country and people are striving to be -- to make it peaceful and have their voices heard. That says it's not hard.

This is like Charlottesville. It should not have been hard to say, a mob of white people carrying torches through the UVA campus and what we saw around the confederate monument and what we saw there, it was not good people on both sides. That was the wrong comment, right? And it was not hard -- should not have been hard to say this is wrong, this is inflaming our country, this is -- we need to take this seriously because this problem continues on and on.

And all of us (INAUDIBLE) stories. We either have stories that -- of what has happened to ourselves or we have stories from our parents and our grandparents. So if you say you didn't see it or you can't comment, then you're complicit in the violence that President Trump is stoking.

BERMAN: Look, something else to consider. I wonder if America's opinion of kneeling, of athletes kneeling during the national anthem has changed now? How will they react when that happens again this summer, and how will the president react? I wonder if there's been a shift there as well. Astead Herndon, Karen Finney, great to have you on this morning.

HERNDON: Thank you.

FINNEY: Thank you.

BERMAN: Breaking overnight, one of the biggest defeats of the 2020 primary season. Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King defeated. He has lost his bid for a tenth term. He was beaten by Republican state senator Randy Feenstra in a primary.

King was vilified by Democrats for racist remarks. He said, and recently abandoned by Republicans, who's stripped him of his committee assignments, this, again, following a new round of racist comments last year.

Six Atlanta police officers facing charges for a violent encounter during a weekend protest. Two college students who were pulled from a car and tased by police, there they are, they'll join us, next.