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Sport Journalist, Jemele Hill, Discusses Drew Brees Apologizing for Anthem Protest Remarks & Broncos Coach Apologizes for Saying no Racism in NFL; Murkowski Breaks with GOP, "Struggling" to Support Trump in 2020; Soon, Memorial Service in Minneapolis for George Floyd. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 4, 2020 - 13:30   ET



JEMELE HILL, SPORTS JOURNALIST AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": And maybe Drew Brees wasn't up on the history of why Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel as opposed to showing some other form of protest. He chose to kneel because an Army Ranger, a Green Beret, excuse me, named Nate Boyer, told him, when you take a knee, it is a sign of respect for the fallen.

Maybe Drew Brees didn't understand the connection was. But we've had three or more years to find out and understand what Colin Kaepernick's protest was really about.

So the backlash that he received was from people who felt like he took what is a very trying experience of being black in America and he made it about himself, rather than what the issue is about, which is police brutality.

Point it, the apology -- I'm not sure if credit or being commended, if that is what he exactly deserved. He needed to apologize for sure. But I would like to see what Drew Brees does from here on out. As the old adage goes, pay attention to what they do, not to what they say.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I want you to watch a clip from FOX commentator, Laura Ingraham. She's talking about NBA star, Lebron James, speaking up on politics. And then she talks about Drew Brees.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": It's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.

Oh, and Lebron and Kevin, you're great players but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.

Well, he's allowed to have his view about what kneeling and the flag means to him. I mean, he's a person. He has some worth, I would imagine.

This is beyond football though. This is totalitarian conduct. This is Stalinist.

By the way, on the streets of New Orleans, we're looking at live pictures. They're shouting, "F" Drew Brees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. That's amazing to me.

INGRAHAM: That's what this moment has done to the beautiful team spirit of the New Orleans Saints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- he's a great Christian man.


KEILAR: I don't know, Jemele, if you can find a better example of what a black athlete faces when they speak up and use their voice, versus what a white athlete faces when they do.

HILL: Well, first of all, let me thank Laura Ingraham. Because she said shut up and dribble, I got another check. I was the narrator in the documentary that wound up being produced based off her comments about how through the history of a movement, black athletes have always been told, shut up and dribble.

So thank you, Laura. I appreciated the extra check.

But, yes, you showed the hypocrisy right there. It is not just black athletes. It is black people, period.

All those people, when Colin Kaepernick was protesting, who said this is not the time. This is not the method. We don't like this. Now you see people who are frustrated. All this unrest and rebellion across the country. When do you like it?

I would like all those people who have an issue when black athletes speak out, or black people speak out, when we protest, please tell us the date, the time, how you would like us to protest, how you would like to us speak to issues that are important to us in a manner in which you feel comfortable.

Clearly, Laura Ingraham is more comfortable with one athlete, or one -- a certain kind of athlete speaking out, versus another. I don't see the difference but clearly she does. And I would love to know what that difference is. I think I can guess though.

KEILAR: I would love to know as well, Jemele.

The coach of the Denver Broncos had said that there's no racism, there's no discrimination in the NFL. He's spoken out for that and apologized.

It is worth pointing out that there are no white owners. Right? Most of the coaches are also white. Some teams have threatened to bench players if they kneeled. You wrote a column saying that the NFL has amnesia. Tell us why.

HILL: OK. I think you men there are no black owners. (CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Sorry. There are no black owners.

HILL: Yes. The NFL, for them to enter into this conversation about racial inequality is interesting. They're a really great reflection of that inequality. You have team leagues, three black coaches, only two black general managers. Never been a black owner.

So for this coach, for Vic Fangio, to say he doesn't see racism, either he has a really big blind spot or he doesn't want to see it because it makes him uncomfortable.

Again, what we're seeing in real-time are examples of the type of resistance, conversation, the cumulative effect of feeling like you're talking on a brick wall, if you're black trying to explain, what is our experience in the country.

The NFL, because you theoretically have a meritocracy, given that, yes, the best players play. But don't act as if the NFL is somehow impervious to the racial prejudices and biases.


This is the same league where it took a long time for black quarterbacks to be able to play because there was an assumed notion that black quarterbacks could not lead other men and they were not intellectually capable of playing the position. That was a real thing. For him to say that, it is just disgraceful.

When I wrote the column for "The Atlantic," it was about continuing to practice selective amnesia when it came to their own racial track record.

KEILAR: I think a lot of people, Jemele, don't realize that and that's why reading your column is so important.

Thank you so much for writing it. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us on CNN. Jemele Hill, we appreciate it.

HILL: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just in, a Republican Senator breaking with her party saying she is, quote, "struggling to support the president in 2020."

I want to talk now with Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

These comments, these are being heard very loudly from Senator Lisa Murkowski.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. She has criticized the president from time to time. She did vote against removing him from office during the impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year.

She makes it very clear, speaking to reporters just earlier today, that she is not yet on board in endorsing President Trump in 2020. She said, "I'm still struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time. I think you know that. I did support the president in the initial election and make sure I'm able to represent my state well and to work with the administration and the president."

Now, I asked her if she agrees with the criticism from that scathing remarks made by President Trump's former defense secretary, James Mattis. And she, quote, "Yes, I do."

She said she was happy that James Mattis issued that criticism when he called the president a threat against the Constitution. When he said the president, in his view, was trying to deliberately divide this country.

And he and had strongly criticized the president's photo op in front of a church on Monday and the removal of protesters outside, saying it was something of a squelch of their constitutional right to protest.

She said she agreed with that criticism from James Mattis. She said she was happy that he found the words and something that she was struggling to find the words about how she feels, and you said it.

Brianna, she is a lone voice here. I've been speaking to Republicans up and down today and they are virtually all siding with the president. They're saying, Mattis' criticism, it is his criticism. They'll leave it between those two. Very few are willing to say anything to suggest they are on board with what he is saying.

But Lisa Murkowski, one of the few to break ranks -- Brianna?

KEILAR: What's the calculus on that, Manu? Is this a decision where they're considering their own political future? It is just hard to imagine that every single Republican, with the exception of Lisa Murkowski, is actually cool with what's going on with the president.

RAJU: Yes. Murkowski is not up for re-election. A number of the Senators are up for re-election. A lot of them realize, be in line with the president. If you're on the other side of his Twitter finger, that could be a problem for you coming the fall -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Certainly.

Manu, thank you for bringing that to us from the capitol.

Soon the three other ex-police officers who were at the scene when George Floyd was killed, two of them helping restrain him, they're going to make their first court appearance.

At about the same time, there's a huge memorial service planned in Minneapolis with the Floyd family. We're following all of this. We'll have live coverage for you.


[13:43:31] KEILAR: Any minute now, memorial services for George Floyd are expected to begin there in Minneapolis. That's what we're watching on the right side of the screen. His family will be there to say their final good-byes to their brother, to their son.

I want to bring in CNN's Miguel Marquez.

Miguel, you're in Minneapolis and you've been there for days now. This is a key moment, a key day. The memorial for George Floyd about to begin. Tell us what you're seeing there.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a difficult day for the family, clearly. It is also a difficult day for the city and for the state.

I want to show you what's happening. This is just outside the side of memorial, the university that has opened its doors to the Floyd family, and to everybody who is coming.

They have an area here that can seat about 1,000 people. Because of the coronavirus and social distancing rules, they have to limit the number of people to get in.

Just over here, this big throng of people over here, these are people being processed into --

KEILAR: All right, we lost Miguel's signal there. We'll try to get him back up.


You're watching the memorial service for George Floyd. We're keeping an eye on this as this is set to get underway moments from now. Stand by. And we will bring this to you.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And you're watching CNN's special coverage of the memorial of George Floyd.


I'm Don Lemon. Thanks, everyone, for joining us.

Today's memorial, the first in a series of services set to begin in Minneapolis. It's going to begin in just a few moments. And there you see the inside of the memorial service.

But before it does, and in the midst of the marches and the anguish and all of these calls for change, we want to do what so many others will do today, and that's take a moment to reflect on George's life.


The Floyd family remembers him as a beloved son, father and brother.


PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I love my brother. Everybody loved my brother. Knowing my brother is to love my brother. He's a gentle Giant. He don't hurt anybody.


LEMON: For former NBA star, Stephen Jackson, George Floyd was a close friend for more than two decades. Their resemblance, so similar, that they developed a special nickname for each other.


STEPHEN JACKSON, FORMER NBA STAR & FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: Nine out of 10 times, we called each other twin. He was just a great dude, man. Somebody that supported me genuinely. Somebody that wanted to be a protector and provider for everybody around him.

One of those guys where you live on one side of town, your side of the town is not agreeing with the other side and they hate each other, but he's the only guy that can move around and everybody gets along with him. That was Floyd.


BALDWIN: Jackson also said that Floyd moved to Minneapolis several years ago in search of a better life.

The former owner of the nightclub where George Floyd had worked remembered how popular he was, not just with his colleagues but with all who met him.


MAYA SANTAMARIA, OWNER, EL NUEVO RODO NIGHTCLUB: George was called in to do extra security as a support on some of our urban nights, which were usually Tuesdays or Sundays.

And he was just a really nice guy. Everybody liked him. That's why he got called in by some of my guys. He's come help us out when we need some help. And he was well liked in the Latino community and the African-American community.


BALDWIN: For those who didn't know George Floyd, his horrific death sparked action in the form of massive protests.




BALDWIN: Look at this. Thousands upon thousands of Americans in all 50 states coming together every single day and night since George Floyd's death 10 days ago, from holding the signs high in the air to taking a knee.

Like these doctors, here you have, and nurses in New York City. Many felt this moment was one in which they could not be silent.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For once, everybody's tired, and everybody's ready for change, white people, black people. Out here, if you look, this is not just black people in this movement. We have white, black, Asian, Hispanic, native. Everybody is sick of the racism within this system, especially within this state of Minnesota.

Minnesota ranked in the top five for most-segregated states in the nation and we're tired of it here. We're tired and we want to see change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to George Floyd and what happens all too frequently in our country is not OK. It has to change. And there's a deeper issue. It's not just police. It's a deeper issue in all of us. So we've got to address that. And then we've got to say, we're going to stand together, speak up, stand together, love each other, and we'll see change happen.


LEMON: As we look at these live pictures now from North Central University in Minneapolis, you can see the grieving there. Inside of that room, it is palpable.

And, Brooke, we have been transfixed here in the United States on all of these images and the stories, and of course, the video that shows the death, the calls for justice spreading worldwide.

Take a look at this. This is a scene in Amsterdam on Monday where citizens gathered in solidarity. And then there's Paris, France, marchers spilling out into the streets. And also, in Syria, a graffiti artist painted this mural featuring Floyd's image and some of the final words that he spoke, "I can't breathe."

One of George Floyd's cousins telling me these tributes have helped soothe some of the family's unimaginable pain.


TERA BROWN, COUSIN OF GEORGE FLOYD: It definitely warms my heart to see that we have so many people willing to support and to protest and to give him a voice and keep this going because he was a very loving person and he didn't deserve what happened to him.


LEMON: There's been global outpouring, making these words from George Floyd's 6-year-old daughter, Gianna -- you can see her here with her dad -- makes these words all the more poignant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE FLOYD, KILLED WHILE IN POLICE CUSTODY: That's right, daddy change the world. What?


GEORGE FLOYD: Daddy change the world.




LEMON: As we wait for this memorial to begin, I just want to -- Brooke, this is amazing to see the people who are in the room, the diversity in the room. We hear the sounds of, really, celebrating a life as we mourn here.

This has just been a moment that we have been transfixed to in this country and just watching all of this outpouring. Hopefully, this will be a time of change that we make a pivot in this country, Brooke, to do something different.

BALDWIN: No, I think that -- listen, I've been doing my own self- educating, self-reflecting and I know I've been in touch with you over text the last couple of days, just feeling you and sending you love and so many people in this country love. And it's truly an honor to be on with you and telling this story and shining a light on George Floyd.

To hear his little girl saying, "daddy change the world," there's -- I was talking to Van Jones yesterday and he was saying, it had just begun, the marathon. We're walking in mud every step of the way that will be difficult but, man, we have all got to walk that walk.

LEMON: And what a beautiful painting there. And you see some of the dignitaries in the crowd. We saw the mayor of Minneapolis there moments ago. The Reverend Jesse Jackson there as well.

And there will be many folks there who you might recognize their faces or not because they are wearing masks. We're in the middle of a global pandemic. It's hard to socially distance at a funeral, but I'm sure they're doing the best they can.

But again, this is at North Central University in Minneapolis. Live pictures coming from this memorial service, the number of first of memorial services.

Let's get to Minneapolis now. CNN's Omar Jimenez at North Central University where today's public memorial is being held.

Describe the scene where you are, Omar.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don and Brooke, as you mentioned, this will be the beginning of what will be a series of saying good-bye to George Floyd, a little bit over a week after he died. And there was music playing as it has been in the lead-up to the beginning of this memorial service, set to begin in just a few moments here.

We've seen some of the people in attendance right now. You saw Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in there and Governor Tim Walz as well. And Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar went up to the casket to pay her respects.

And we've also seen his friend and former NBA player, Stephen Jackson, who I spoke to throughout all of this. And highlights one really important aspect in all of this. Of course, we are remembering the life of George Floyd but we're also beginning to process the legacy he's now leaving behind, a legacy that has now been felt in places across the world.

And to use Stephen Jackson's words, he says, "George Floyd will be the name of change and we're going to make sure of it."

Now, the family woke up today with all four of these former officers arrested and facing charges, just part of what they wish. But justice for them comes from seeing this through to conviction.

As and that's part of their mindset in this today, saying their work isn't finished. There's a mission tied to remembering George Floyd's life because the life he lived now has the potential, and as we've seen, could be a symbol for change to potentially come -- Don, Brooke?

BALDWIN: Omar, thank you so much.

As we'll stay on these pictures and listen in throughout course of the next couple of hours to the speakers and the beautiful voices of the choir and the singing.

I want to stay in Minneapolis because, as you point out, Don, because we are in the midst of a pandemic, only a couple hundred people can fit into this space. And there's so many others who would love to be there and are there just outside the memorial service. Crowds are starting to gather.

Miguel Marquez in the middle of that.

Miguel, tell me what folks sharing with you. Why do they want to be there?

MARQUEZ: If there's a such thing as a somber protest, this is it. This is Minnesota and people coming from all over to just be here, be adjacent to where the casket of George Floyd was brought in, everybody from politicians to celebrities starting to pile in.

But in this area outside of there at the university that's opened its doors to this, you have hundreds gathered now. They're preparing for perhaps as many as 10,000 people to fill this area in the adjacent park.

It has a bit of the feel of the memorial as well because you not only have people who have clearly been protesting all week but you have community groups that have come up, local businesses that have chipped in, and you have water, food, groceries, medical assistance. Anything that anyone might need has popped up here in the last several hours.


And there's a sense of community in this. I don't know how much time you spent in Minneapolis. It's a great city.