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Protesters Out In Force in Cities Across the U.S.; All Four Ex-Officers Charged In George Floyd's Death; National Guard and Protesters Face Off in Washington; Obama: Feel Hopeful Even as You May Fee Angry; Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis Denounces Trump; Esper Breaks with Trump on Using Military to Quell Protests; Boris Johnson Says Racism Has No Place in Our Society; Protests Over Killing of George Floyd Spread Worldwide; SoftBank Fund to help Companies Led By People of Color. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired June 4, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause at the CNN center in Atlanta.
Formal criminal charges against four fired Minneapolis police officers in the violent death of George Floyd have been announced and the outrage here over racial injustice. Charges against Derick Chauvin -- seeing here on the right -- have been upgraded from third degree murder to second degree felony murder. Chauvin was the one with his knee pinning Floyd to the pavement for nearly 9 minutes. He kept him there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS CHANTING: We got all four. We got four. We got all four
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Demonstrators in Minneapolis chanted we got all four after the other three former officers were charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. Floyd's death while in police custody has exposed a raw nerve in this country. A huge crowd march through downtown Los Angeles defying a 9 p.m. curfew. The mayor says that curfew will be lifted on Thursday.
Similar scenes have played out in dozens of cities across the United States. Like Portland, Oregon, where protesters were met with riot police and National Guard troops. One of the many flash points has been at the doorstep of the Trump White House. National Guard troops has been pushing protesters further and farther away. We get the latest now from CNN's Alex Marquardt.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEX MARQUARDT, SENIOR U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The large demonstrations that have been gathering here in Washington D.C. have been focused for most of the past week on the White House. But today this was as far as the demonstrators could come, pushed back even farther away from Lafayette Park where they have been gathering. Now about another half block away. You can see those trucks there blocking the line of sight to the White House. Still, the protesters came in huge numbers peacefully chanting, taking a knee at times, singing and listening to music. A real party like atmosphere. At other times much more intense as protesters marched straight up to the line of National Guard forces as well as officers from the bureau of prisons. Which really speaks to this patch work of federal law enforcement that has come to D.C., that is working in D.C. in this time of crisis.
I also want to point out that church right there. That is St. John's Episcopal Church. That is where President Trump went for his now infamous photo op in which he held up the bible. I was speaking with the rector of St. John's, he said that worshippers were not allowed into the church today. In fact that it was the first time since 9/11 that worshipers could not get to St. John's. There is a curfew in effect at Washington, D.C. that was at 11 p.m. that is long since past. You can see these protesters are still out here, still protesting peacefully. And the mayor of Washington said that that curfew in essence would not be enforced as long as the protesters do, indeed, stay peaceful.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Former President Barack Obama has now made his first comments on camera about the nationwide civil unrest sparked by George Floyd's death. During a virtual town hall held by the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, which is part of Obama's foundation. He said he is hopeful real change can come from this moment in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In some ways as tragic as these past few weeks have been, as difficult and scary and uncertain as they've been, they've also been an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of these underlying trends. And they offer an opportunity for us to all work together to tackle them and bring about real change. We both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented and we can monitor and make sure we're following up on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Obama urges on the protesters but he stressed demonstrating is not enough. Saying it's vital to show up and vote in November.
Protesters in Minneapolis have been calling for charges against all four officers involved ever since George Floyd died.
When the news broke that the officers were being accused, protesters reacted with joy and relief. CNN's Miguel Marquez has details.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A long awaited decision for George Floyd's family and supporters.
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: George Floyd mattered, he was loved, his family was important, his life had value and we will seek justice for him and for you and we will find it.
MARQUEZ: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announcing charges for the former police officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck killing him, will be increased to second degree murder. And the other three former officers who either helped hold Floyd down or stood watching have been charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. Ellison asking for patience as they work through the process.
ELLISON: Trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard, but history does show that there are clear challenges here.
MARQUEZ: Just hours earlier --
BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: All of the world is watching.
MARQUEZ: George Floyd's son stood at the spot where his father took his final breath.
QUINCY MASON FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S SON: Trying to get this for my father. And no man or woman should be without their fathers and we want justice for what's going on right now.
MARQUEZ: Family attorney Benjamin Crump making a powerful statement that Floyd's death shines a light on inequality everywhere.
CRUMP: When George Floyd said I can't breathe because when he can't breathe, none of us could breathe. And so this is a tipping point.
MARQUEZ: Earlier today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz visited the same hallowed ground.
TIM WALZ, MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: For me I have to personally and viscerally feel this. I don't think we get another chance to fix this in the country, I really don't.
MARQUEZ: And as protesters take to the streets across the country today, last night protests remained largely peaceful. But as curfews passed in some cities, there was once again unrest. CNN cameras were there as looting continued in New York and in Lafayette Park across from the White House where after mostly peaceful protests police used pepper spray through the fence directly at our camera. But in many cities protesters and police came together. In New Orleans, police officers took a knee with protesters. In Boston too and in Houston, a protester praying with a police chief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen.
MARQUEZ: But as George Floyd's family continues to grieve --
ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: She wants to know how he died. The only thing that I can tell her is he couldn't breathe.
MARQUEZ: Their hope, that his death will bring change.
VAUSE: Joining us now from New York is CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson. Thanks for being with us, Joey.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nice to be here, John.
VAUSE: OK firstly, the way this has been handled by the authorities in Minnesota, why did it take, what, nine days to get to this point where the people who were obviously going to be charged have been charged?
JACKSON: So that's the problem. And I think there in therein lies the rub as it relates to people just protesting and people feeling less than. And you know, communities of color just feeling that there are two systems of justice. One that works for one group and one that doesn't work for another. And why do I say that?
Because in practical terms, if there's reason to believe that a crime was committed, that's the standard. It's called probable cause. There's a reason to believe a crime was committed. An arrest is effective immediately. They don't wait, authorities that is, police, prosecutors until they have enough evidence to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to arrest you. That's the standard at trial. But there's no requirement that you interview every witness. Get every videotape, do everything.
And so the fact that the officer Chauvin who actually was the one who engaged in the knee to the neck for 9 minutes was arrested four days later and then just today nine days later there's the arrest of the other three. It's troubling, problematic and it leads to what you're seeing in the United States, which are pockets of protests throughout the country with people saying, I'm mad as heck, I want change and I'm not going to take it anymore. So in essence the basis for the arrest now, it's inexplicable that it's taken this long.
VAUSE: The Attorney General upgraded the original charge facing Derek Chauvin from a third-degree murder to second-degree felony murder. And this is how he explained the difference between the various possible murder charges he could have brought. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLISON: According to Minnesota law, you have to have premeditation and deliberation to charge first degree murder. Second degree murder you have to intend for death to be the result.
For second degree felony murder you have to intend the felony and then death be the result without necessarily having it be the intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK so, in the course of committing a felony, in this case assault, and the victim dies, have I got this right, all the prosecutor needs to prove is that the assault happened?
JACKSON: That's exactly right. And so there was a lot of clamoring for a first-degree murder charge to be applied here. And that I believe the prosecutor felt it was problematic. Why? He explained it. Because you would have to show intent, plus premeditation, deliberation, planning. And that would be a high standard. Instead what he did is he pivoted to what's called second degree murder.
And in that second degree murder, the theory is -- just as you said it, John -- that you establish that there was a commission of a felony, that being the assault, and in the commission of the felony even though you did not intend for the death to occur, it did. It's felony murder, that gets you where you need to be. And remember, that's the charge as to officer Chauvin. It's also the second-degree murder felony charge as to the others.
What does it mean? It means they aided, they abetted, they participated and as a result of the participation in the felony, the assault, they would be equally guilty. And in analogy would be, you rob a bank, you're not the guy who goes inside, you're the one in the getaway car, you're the lookout, at the end of the day you're just as guilty as the person who went in with a mask and a gun. That's the theory the prosecution will have moving forward.
VAUSE: Charging an on-duty police officer with murder is a very rare act in this country. In fact, according to one study between 2005 and 2015 charges have been brought just 54 times despite on average more than 1,000 fatal police shootings every year in the U.S. So is the Attorney General here -- as he's looking at what his best chances for a conviction and that's why he's gone with a felony murder second- degree because that's probably -- I won't say easiest but the most likely one that's going to convince a jury.
JACKSON: I think that's exactly right. I think what you have to do is not withstanding the public pressures, notwithstanding, you know, the public outcry for murder, murder, murder. Now course, you understand why people feel that way, but your operating within the law. What you're doing if you're the prosecutor, is you're saying, listen, I could establish presumably that they were engaging in, the officers, that is, a felony. That felony was assault. We can see it with our eyes. If I can prove that they were engaging in an assault, we know that he died as a result. Therein lies my conviction.
The problem historically has been to your point is that it's very difficult to get prosecutors to arrest officers. If you arrest them, it's hard for a grand jury to indict them. If you indict them, it's hard for a jury to convict them. And there's these attitudinal problems and concerns, right. Just historically that people are reluctant to convict police officers. I think the prosecutor here sees that this is his best shot, that's what he's going with and he's hoping, obviously, that he gets justice for George Floyd and his family.
VAUSE: From your lips to god's ear, let's hope so. Joey, good to see you, thank you so much.
JACKSON: Thank you, John. My pleasure.
VAUSE: Well a growing number of current and former senior military leaders are either lashing out or at the very least publicly disagreeing with the President over his threat to deploy the military to control protesters. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has mostly kept silent since resigning last year from the Trump administration. Now though it seems he's not holding back.
He wrote this -- Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people, does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us.
The President responded to Mattis in a series of tweets. Saying in part he didn't like his leadership style much else said anything about it really and was glad he was gone.
And the current U.S. Defense Secretary -- well current as of what, 4:13 a.m. -- Mike Esper publicly broke with President Trump. Esper apparently caught the White House off guard during a news conference at the Pentagon telling reporters he did not support Trump's call to use active duty troops against protesters. He also said he did not know ahead of time he'd be part of the President's widely criticized photo op at St. John's church on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act. The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.
I did know that we were going to the church. I was not aware of a photo op was happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And a retired four-star Marine General denounced Trump's threat to use the military. Slammed his controversial church photo op. In an opinion piece in the with the publication "Foreign Policy," General John Allen criticized the President for failing to, quote, project any of the higher emotions or leadership desperately needed in every quarter of this nation during the dire moment.
[04:15:00] He went on to say that Donald Trump is not religious, has no need of religion and doesn't care about the about the devout, except in so far as they serve his political needs. Allen ended by saying, this could be the beginning of the change of American democracy not to illiberalism, but to enlightenment. But it will have to come from the bottom up. For at the White House there is no one home.
Still to come here, the outrage is going global. The international protests over George Floyd's death and the surprising stance taken by the British Prime Minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOYEGA, ACTOR: We will not bring black children into a world that discriminates against them. We're not going to bring black people into a world that tries to silence them and take the neck of their existence. Today is the day that we stand, we walk. It's not about career. It's not about money. It's about your life to live as a human being.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: "Star Wars" actor John Boyega there is one hundreds who gathered in London's Hyde Park on Wednesday.
They waved placards and chanted, black lives matter. And no justice, no peace -- in solidarity with protesters across the U.S.
Well when asked about the demonstrations in Central London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he supported the right to peacefully protest injustice and he had this message for his friend, the U.S. President, Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well we mourn George Floyd and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him. And my message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States from the U.K., is that I don't think racism or race -- it's an opinion, I'm sure it's shared by the overwhelming majority of people in the world, racism, racist violence has no place in our society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: There's been an outpouring of solidarity across the world after the death of George Floyd. Melissa Bell in Paris has been following the latest internationally and she joins us now live from Paris. So, Melissa, you know, the statements coming from Boris Johnson seem fairly boilerplate. But then when you look at the history of President Donald Trump, for Boris Johnson to say, you know, this is appalling, racism is terrible, it does seem to sort of fly in the face of what the President's record -- the U.S. President's record, at least. MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well it does seem to make him
even more isolated than he seemed already in terms of the friends that he had abroad anyway. But of course, Boris Johnson has been criticized, as have French authorities, for being slightly slow to address this question. Now they have. Boris Johnson there. We've also heard from the French interior minister who addressed the problem of racism in the French Parliament yesterday.
But this is that clip you played a moment ago of that protest. It really gives you an idea, as you were just saying, John, that these protests, the ones we saw in London yesterday, the ones we saw here in Paris on Tuesday night are about black lives matter. Are in sympathy with what's happening in the United States. But really have touched a nerve in terms of the kinds of issues that people in the United Kingdom, and France, and other European countries face on a regular basis.
We heard it here in the march on Paris on Tuesday night, a sense that they are the targets of racism. The sense of impunity that they see in terms of the police ever facing justice when these sorts of incidents are -- and they are here as they are in the United States increasingly filmed. And it seems not often terribly successfully prosecuted.
Also finally, John, a word from the Pope on this yesterday during his regular Wednesday morning prayer, naming George Floyd and that's what analysts say that this is something quite unusual, talking about the tragedy of his death. But also talking about the sin of racism and urging everyone to help bring an end to that. Even as the Pope spoke to the necessity of these protests remaining as peaceful as possible. So all eyes very much as the rest of the world on what's happening in the United States with all sorts of reactions in places like Europe and questioning about how these issues are dealt with here as well -- John.
VAUSE: Some good may come from this after all. Who knows. Melissa, thank you. Melissa Bell live for us early morning shift there in Paris.
Well here in the United States we'll find out in a few hours just how many more Americans are filing for unemployment claims last week. CNN's John Defterios live again for us in Abu Dhabi. So, John, you know these claims we're closely watching them. It's all part of the fallout of the pandemic. It's expected to be lower. But that's a kind of relative term right now, right?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: A relative term is a perfect way of putting that, John. The trend is down but the number remains sky high. There's some hope here because it could come below 2 million for the weekly jobless claims, which is the lowest we've seen since this pandemic set into place. At the end of March that number was nearly 7 million. But historically claims come in on a weekly basis between 100,000 to 200,000.
And then people say can you make comparisons to this pandemic vis-a- vis what we've seen in the recent past. So let's go back to 2008 and the global financial crisis. You can see the difference and the spread here with over 9 million jobs lost during the financial crisis or about that number and then 28, above 28 already in the pandemic. And the bad news, John, is that we're not done. Small and medium-size enterprises are still laying off workers. And we see restructuring still with the major Fortune 500 companies. We could see the U.S. unemployment rate climb very close to 20 percent which will be the highest since the Great Depression in the 1930s. This kind of blows out what we saw during the global financial crisis which hit one sector in particular.
VAUSE: We're also in a situation now where corporate America is sort of stayed immobilized a bit. We've seen donations to Black Lives Matter from some of the tech companies. But also now from SoftBank, which is this Japanese tech investor. We saw this $100 million fund set aside for I guess projects and startups which are owned, operated, started by those from minority communities. So how does this compare to anything we've seen so far?
DEFTERIOS: Well they're going to make the claim to build the biggest investment fund in the United States targeting the minority communities, particularly the black American and Latino communities. $100 million for an investment fund focused on technology is very large in this space. As you saw, many of the companies have put up to $10 million to have a racial bias wiped off the face of the United States, which can be a tall order. Putting into nonprofit organizations. This is very different. This is to generate income and close that wealth gap as well, John.
They're looking to take 50 percent of their profits, apply it back into the fund and also waive the management fee. So it is something that is substantial from a Japanese investor that has $100 billion on the table in its vision fund, which has faced some challenges as of late. But a fantastic track record in companies like Alibaba.
And boy is it needed. If you take a look at the Economic Policy Institute's study, kind of wrapping up all the numbers when it comes to that wealth gap, the incomes here, $71,000 for the average white family in America versus $41,000 for the average black family. Household savings and wealth, 1/10 in the black community vis-a-vis the white community.
And health care is very expensive in the United States, John. You live there. You know what I'm talking about here. The black community, nearly 10 percent go without insurance whatsoever. So this is a huge challenge, always has been even after the Obama health care proposal. And that's nearly double what we see in the white community. So SoftBank making something that's sustainable. They want to have a fund that grows over time. And I think the one case having covered the LA riots, for example, in 1992, the policies were not sustainable, John. Will it change this time Is the multi-trillion-dollar question.
Multi-trillion. OK. John, thank you. John Defterios there live for in Abu Dhabi.
DEFTERIOS: It is. VAUSE: OK, thanks, John. After the break it seems legendary
quarterback Drew Brees has gone from hero to zero after criticizing players who take a knee during the national anthem. That should make for some interesting moments if they ever get back to the locker room.