Return to Transcripts main page


Memorial In Minneapolis Today For George Floyd; George Floyd's Memorial To Take Place On Monday In Houston; Court Hearing For Three Charges In Ahmaud Arbery's Murder; Preliminary Hearing For Suspects In Ahmaud Arbery Killing; GBI Agent: Travis McMichael Reportedly Used Racial Epithet Moments After Shooting. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 4, 2020 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world, approaching the top of the hour now. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for joining us today.

Minneapolis comes 10 days after Floyd's pleased for chance to breathe right at that spot or ignored by a police officer whose knee pinned Floyd to the ground for nearly nine minutes.

And moments before the Minneapolis memorial, there will be a court hearing for three of the four officers now charged in Floyd's death. The three officers on the right side of your screen now charged as accessories to murder.

We want to spend a good amount of time in Minneapolis today hearing from the community as it holds this important memorial service. CNN's Omar Jimenez and Miguel Marquez are at North Central University that is the site of today's memorial service that our signor is at the site of George Floyd's senseless death, now a memorial.

Omar, let's begin with you as the community comes together for an important day in Minneapolis.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Today we'll begin what will be a series of good-byes really for George Floyd over the course of the next few days. A few moments ago, I should say not long ago, we saw the hearse and the casket arrived here through North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.

And over the course of the service, we are expecting to hear from multiple family members, the Attorney for the family, Ben Crump, and it also will be eulogized Reverend Al Sharpton. And the day this memorial also comes on the day where the family is waking up with all four of the now former officers in this case, arrested in all four of the now former officers facing charges, part of what they had wish for in this entire process.

But we have heard from the family's attorney, Ben Crump that it's not just about arresting these officers, it's about trying to go to that next step of convictions as well. And what we heard from the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison that this whole prosecution process might or will take months. And processing this pain for the family is likely going to take so much longer, and this day of memorial bringing all these people together is part of that healing process.

We spoke to friend of the family, friend of George Floyd and former NBA player Stephen Jackson. And one of the things he said is that George Floyd's name is going to be a name of change. We're going to make sure that. And today we don't just remember a life will begin to now process a legacy. And that's what we'll begin to see unfold in just a few hours now here as well.

And again, when I say this is the beginning of a series of good-byes for George Floyd, there will be another memorial in North Carolina over the weekend where he was born. And then all of that will culminate with funeral services back in Houston area where he grew up or where he is from, I should say on Monday and Tuesday. John?

KING: Omar Jimenez, I appreciate that. Let's turn it to Miguel Marquez now. And Miguel there has been ten emotional exhausting days in Minneapolis. Why is today in this memorial service is so important to those who are trying to organize it?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the day and we don't know how the whole day is going to go. But this is the day that I think people were dreading and people are also now starting to grapple with what has happened in this city and the effects that it has had - not only around the country but around the world.


MARQUEZ: People are preparing. Chris Dame, we were in a park that will be filled here at some point. This is Chris Dame and you were the neighborhood group. You are the story of Minneapolis people who have just stepped up to help. What are you guys doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are a group of hospitality employees. And we have recruited some friends kind of started out as a chef. Chris wanted to come out and feed protesters I wanted to donate to him to help him feed the people. My works and planned events in the past and kind of morphed into this big production in 24 hours we had corporate donations, we had private donations. We had volunteers. We have more volunteers coming. We are cooking across the street.

Governor Walz gave us permission to be in the park here. And what we'll be doing is just serving the peaceful protesters, feeding the community as restaurant employees feeding people as how we show our love. It's how we get our heart out there.

MARQUEZ: You are being humble as well. They are expecting or there is a possibility of as many as 10,000 people in this area. Because the very small space in there because of social distancing they can't get people in there. They have speakers set up out here as many as 10,000 in the park. You guys are set to feed a thousand people. Are you ready?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are. We are ready - we are.

MARQUEZ: And what has this done to Minneapolis? The event - and not is coming together?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So much, I mean, we were already - the hospitality industry in crisis with COVID. So with this we have friends that have lost restaurants, we have friends that have lost their businesses, their homes. For nights we lived in fear. We would hear choppers and booms and sirens, and it was devastating. It's been devastating. But seeing the way the community has come together.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many places that are doing, passing out donations of food for families that can't get to grocery stores. They don't have transportation because we don't have busing service. It's just - it's amazing to see the way everybody has come together as the city just to support each other, to support the family and to just show that we love our city.

MARQUEZ: And do you think the worst has passed? Do you think you are in a rebuilding and are this different than situations like this before?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely. In the last couple of days, you really could feel the turn. I think that having the National Guard coming and show their support. Their presence kind of has calmed the city down. I feel it's just at night it's not so loud anymore.

And you just driving down the street, you'll see over on lake street, you see volunteers that came in with buckets and brooms and anything they could do to help the businesses that were burnt and vandalized.

MARQUEZ: So that flush of anger, we know the Red Cross is here, other community groups are here to supply food for individuals that might need it. That initial flush of anger that rushed through the city, it was like adrenaline in the city. That seems to have played out. Where does Minneapolis go now? How do you get beyond this in a real and substantive way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a question I don't have an answer for. I don't know. I think that the generations underneath me need to be better, they need to work together. And we need change, and I don't know where it begins, I don't know.


MARQUEZ: Well, seeing these protestors, they are largely young, they are very idealistic. There is a sense that there is real change coming and expectation for it. I think today is maybe hopefully another step forward there. John?

KING: Miguel Marquez on the ground for us, remarkable acts of kindness coming from the pain and tragedy in Minneapolis. We appreciate that. And now to Sara Sidner, Sara you just heard Miguel's guest talking about, she doesn't know where it begins.

For many people are visiting the side behind you has been where it begins for them. Whether it's every day, citizens of Minneapolis to the Police Chief they have come to that site for their own reflections. What is it like there today as the city prepares for this memorial service?

SARA SIDNER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: John today is a very solemn day. The crowds are smaller, there is a sense of real calm, but there is also a deep sense of sadness here. You can really tell the tenor and tone of people has changed.

But I will say that this has been considered a sacred spot in the city. There is no destruction here. There has only been, yes, there were cries of anger, yes there were protest. But here this was saved as a sacred spot by the folks in this neighborhood.

And they made very clear that this would not be touched, because this is the place where George Floyd died. This is actually his resting place, his first resting place. And so, what you see behind me is a huge and growing memorial. This is just one side of the building.

On the other side which is the side where Chauvin had his knee, officer, former officer Chauvin have in his knee and George Floyd's neck. It is covered and there are murals and there are signs. There are so many people here talking about what "I can't breathe" means especially in the time of COVID.

You know the combination of the two has been devastating for so many. And we now know that the autopsy report shows that George Floyd also had Coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic but that sense of "I can't breathe" so many Americans have felt that not because of a police - because of this terrible virus.

And that sense of not being able to breathe is a sense of the black community has felt for a long time. Not being able to breathe because they feel they are oppressed by the police officers in certain neighborhoods.

I want to bring in now Julius Hough. Julius agreed to speak with me just a few minutes ago. You have come here, you are emigrated from Liberia. Can you tell me what it is like to be here for you having come from a place like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think when you look at around you can tell us that everyone us we are grieving. I mean, backed in, we normally see when things happening where can we run? We run to the people who can guide us. People will give us peace, people who will give courage by looking at what's going on in America is kind of devastating.

Right now, the country is to a point where is the globes something it is not just George is lot of people, lot of people have been killed by police officers, and nothing came out of it. And if you look around, you see diverse culture skin, colors, not just black, whites Asian occasions.

Everybody stood up and they came and say, enough is enough not because we want our verdicts to be heard, because we are tired of being killed by the same people who we told that we can call on in times of trouble. [12:10:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So today is one of the most historical days that we have in memorial will be taken place here. And I'm so happy to be here to let my voice go out to let people know that we are tired, we are fed up.

Our skin color doesn't justify all is being killed. We didn't ask for it. It was God who gave it to us. So I mean, let's be loved it isn't too hard to just love people for who they are? We are part of American economy.

We do things, we'll wake, we'll leave them all in. I mean, we should be able to call on the police officer and they should come to our rescue. We have our kids coming up. But we tell them today or tomorrow. It is heartbreaking, and so sad.

SIDNER: When you came to this country, did you have a sense of that tension was there, coming from where you've been of a difficult place? When you came to this country, did you have a sense of what did you think about America when you saw that relationship between black people and police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ever thought for once that we have passed through what I went through in Liberia. We saw these things happen, people being killed, we went to wars, civil war that we thought that would not be repeated. So we came here as a sense of rescue in arms of people who can rescue us, who - calling our family members and telling them we are safe, and are to a place where we don't have to worry.

We don't have to think over our heads. But coming to this situation is like all over, New York, New Jersey, almost all districts. And it's not just about us coming to this place, it's us accepting the - meet here and let us accept of who we are? We are immigrant that came legally, we are here, we are working, we are doing things in law with the constitution.

So I think if we call on a police, they should be there to answer the same questions, how are you feeling? What's happening, do you understand? It is not just a matter of taking one person kneeling on his neck for so many minutes. I mean, the pain from the mother, imagine a child calling on to his mom, he's not a child, he's a huge man. For so long he called on his mom.

SIDNER: Thank you so much. Julius Hough spoke so beautifully. He said that this is a big guy; he's 46 years old, George Floyd. And in his moment of despair, he called out mama; his mother has been dead for several years. So what tells you where he was? He was in utter desperation John.

KING: Sara Sidner, thank you so much from the scene please thank you our guest. That was very pointed and powerful. We appreciate his time today, and all of those who are coming there to pay tributes. Sara, I thank you.

We move to New York now where a separate memorial for George Floyd is being held in Brooklyn. George Floyd's brother Terrence expected to be there CNN's Athena Jones in New York tracking that for us. Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we are in - plaza here in downtown Brooklyn, for what is being called a memorial prayer service for George Floyd and followed by what organizers say will be a peaceful march across the Brooklyn Bridge to Police Square in downtown Manhattan.

This memorial here is being led by a local civil rights leader and Pastor the Reverend Kevin McCall, he will deliver words of prayer where also as you mentioned expected to hear from George Floyd's brother, Terrence Floyd deliver what they're calling words of peace.

And we could hear remarks from a series of elected officials, several of them have been invited including members of Congress like Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, New York's Attorney General Latisha James among others.

I spoke with the Reverend McCall just a few minutes ago about what his message will be today? And whether we can have a protests after all these expressions of emotion and pain and anger and fear, and now the fact that you now have these four officers facing charges that could send them into prison for a couple of decades?

Is this now that time to enter the healing phase, just a day when memorials like the one begin today mean that we are entering the healing phase of this process? And he said, look, the healing phase in a way, but the other part of the heart has to heal. Justice has to actually be served.

He said to me, do you know how many times we've been down this road, even if you get in diamonds and charges, you don't get convictions. We know how difficult it has been to see members of police forces convicted of crimes against black men and women.

So the Pastor I should say saying that he plans to deliver a message of next steps as well saying that, we have to keep protesting. We have to keep the pressure on and we have to also talk about concrete steps that could be taken to make change beyond shouting in the streets what kind of political change, what kind of other steps can be taken, he plans to address that as part of his message here today as well. John.

KING: Athena Jones, on the scene for us Brooklyn will circle back as that event takes place as well. Athena, thank you very much. Up next for us the Mayor of Houston joins me as his city prepares for its public memorial service next week to remember George Floyd.



KING: George Floyd was raised in Houston which plans a public memorial service on Monday. Joining us now is the Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner. Mr. Mayor, grateful for your time today thank you. And I want to just tell our viewers who are showing you inside the hall in Minneapolis. There will be a service today in Minneapolis and Mr. Floyd will have a service in your city where he grew up in Houston. Why Sir is this important to you and your community?

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON: John, he grew up in the city of Houston. And what we call third war in south east Houston, third war betray, he graduated from one of the historic high schools in the city of Houston Jack Yates High School.

He played ball at Jack Yates football player, basketball player. And then literally a hundreds of people, lot of people know George, and knew George as well as his family. So, this is a home broadband retuning home for his final stop. And we want to pay tribute to him and we want to uplift his family and show a lot of love to them.

KING: I am grateful, you told those stories because I think it's important for people to remember George Floyd's life as well as we tries to understand the ramifications of his death now.


KING: One of the ramifications has been mostly peaceful protest around the country, some protest that have turned more violent. But in terms of the demand of justice for George Floyd and then justice for others, we know there have been many, many cases where maybe even the police were charged, but they weren't convicted.

I want to listen to your Police Chief here because I think accountability and trust is one of the big questions for all the demonstrations we've seen around the country. Here is how your chief put in the conversation with Wolf Blitzer the other day.


CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE: Here in Houston, last three years we've been here. We had several officers that we in our investigation that used deadly force even when they shot someone in the prison will even die where we have actually with the help of our district attorney file charges. And so, I think we have to do a better job of showing the accountability that is going on.


KING: Describe your take on when the Chief says we need to do a better job. What do you need to do, what the chief need to do, what do Mayors and Chiefs across America need to do at this delicate moment?

TURNER: Well, let me tell you. You can always do better, training is critically important especially in the midst of Coronavirus. There are a lot of people who have lost their jobs, unemployed, don't have the money to pay their bills, so there's a lot of stress, anxiety mental behavior health issues you name it.

And so, training is critically important, and when you're encountering people on the street to understand how to approach them, how to talk to them, that's important? When it comes to reviewing on internal procedures, actions, policies, making sure that we engage in best practices, that's important. When it comes to transparency, making sure that people know that we are being open and transparent with them with the virtues of their family, that's important. All of these factors together help to create that trust between the community and law enforcement and the community.

And you have to work at it each and every day. No system is perfect, but every day we need to be striving for their degree of credibility and integrity. So people know that when they are dealing with them, we are being serious with the hopes that we have taken, and we are there to work with them and not against them.

KING: Mayor, so that's the turn of the great City of Houston. I appreciate your thoughts today sir, and best of luck with the preparations in the days ahead.

TURNER: Thanks, John. And we're looking forward to bring his body back and a proper tribute to him and his family.

KING: Best of luck sir, thank you so much. Coming up, we're going to rely about side of Georgia Courthouse where three men charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery just appeared in court.



KING: In Brunswick, Georgia right now our preliminary hearing underway for three men charged and the death of Ahmaud Arbery, he of course the 25-year-old black man who was shot while jogging in the South Georgia neighborhood.

Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael are charged with murder and aggravated assault. William Bryan who recorded that fatal shooting also faces felony murder charges. CNN's Martin Savidge live for us right now covering this proceeding. Martin what's the latest?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this is preliminary hearing that usually rather breathe. This one has been going on for three hours. The three defendants in this case are not physically present in the court room, but they're present by a video link from accounting jail where they're currently being held.

Much of the testimony is actually been coming from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, Richard Dial who is the lead investigator for the entire case involving the death of Ahmaud Arbery and a number of things that he's revealed.

First of all there is that 36 second video flip that everyone has seen that William Roddie Bryan captured on his cell phone. The GBI reveals there is more video on that phone. In fact more of that shows the actual effort to chase and apprehend Ahmaud Arbery is he was on the run in that neighborhood that day.

Also it's been revealed that Travis McMichael, and much of the testimony is focused on him. He's the man with the shotgun who seems struggling with Ahmaud Arbery on that video. Travis McMichael according to the GBI has admitted to authorities that he shot Ahmaud Arbery, shot him three times.

There was no question, he pulled the trigger. In fact he pulled the trigger when he saw Ahmaud Arbery coming in his direction around the front of the pickup truck. And then lastly and the most controversial testimony came in the form again from the GBI Special Agent.

And it was a reference to a co-conspirer it's a moment right after you have Ahmaud Arbery has died on the ground in the street in the neighborhood. And William Roddie Bryan says he overheard Travis McMichael use a curse word. And then he uses a racial epithet.

That in the room we were in which is a separate viewing room, just triggered gasps from those who were listening, I talked to people who were in the courtroom, they said there was absolute silence, but you could read the emotion on Ahmaud Arbery's parents who were there when they heard that account. John?

KING: Difficult moment for the family. Obviously, this case takes its preliminary steps, in the course Martin Savidge very much appreciate an important reporting, and then we'll stand top of that case as well. And as we take a quick break, we are hearing from the Civil Rights Leader, U.S. Congressmen, John Lewis speaking out.