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Floyd's Second Grade Teacher Remembers Him; NFL Players Speak About Protests. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 4, 2020 - 06:30   ET





Three New York City police officers are in the hospital after being attacked in Brooklyn. Police say two officers were on an anti-looting patrol when a man walked up and stabbed one of those officers in the neck. Two other officers were shot in the hand. None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening. The suspects, we are told, is in critical condition. Police released this photo of the knife they say was used in the attack. We're going to bring you updates on this breaking story as we get them.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A police officer in Sarasota, Florida, now the subject of an internal affairs investigation after a video surfaced on Monday of him kneeling on a suspect's neck. Here's a portion of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got your knee on my man's neck, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On his neck, bro. I got you. I got you on his neck, bro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got you on my man's neck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, sir. Sir?


CAMEROTA: The department now releasing chopper video of this May 18th arrest. They say officers were detaining Patrick Carroll on domestic violence charges when he began resisting. Sarasota Police, though, say that kneeling on a suspect's neck is not a tactic taught, used or advocated by the department. The unidentified officer is on administrative leave during the investigation. No word on if the other two officers on the scene will face discipline. This suspect's family says they hope that people will respond with peaceful, non-violent protests.

BERMAN: All right, a major story developing in Virginia this morning. The governor there is expected to announce plans to remove a statue of confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond. Obviously Richmond was the former capital of the confederacy. Protesters in recent days have tried to pull down the statues on Richmond's historic Monument Avenue despite warnings from police that it could put them in grave danger. This would be a major symbolic moment if it were to happen.

So people who knew George Floyd want to make sure his memory is more than just about his death. We're going to hear from someone with unique perspective about him and why she is especially devastated that he lost his life at the hands of police.



CAMEROTA: Hundreds are expected to attend a memorial service to remember George Floyd today. But one woman, a teacher, remembers him well. In fact, for more than 30 years, she's hung on to a drawing that he made as a child. His hopes for his future seem all the more tragic now.

Joining us now is Waynel Sexton. She was George Floyd's second grade teacher.

Ms. Sexton, thank you so much for being here.

You hung on to a drawing that George Floyd, who back then you called Perry (ph), made, along with an essay for 38 years. And you have it today with you? Can you show us this?


CAMEROTA: And tell us about this. What is this drawing? And what was your assignment?

SEXTON: Yes. Well, one of my favorite memories of Perry involved his report for Black History Month. Each day in the month of February we studied a different famous black American. And as a culmination to that study, I posed the question to my students, how will you impact the future?


What will you do to make a difference?

So, in response, each student wrote a story on an essay called Future Famous Americans and described their aspirations.

CAMEROTA: And let me just read a portion of it for everybody in case they can't read it on the screen.

SEXTON: OK. Yes. CAMEROTA: So what George Floyd, again, who you, at that time and his family called Perry said was, when I grow up, I want to be a Supreme Court judge. When people say, your honor, he did rob the bank, I will say, be seated. And if he doesn't, I will tell the guard to take him out. Then I will beat my hammer on the desk. Then everybody will be quiet.

Why was this -- why -- why did this particular drawing and his essay stick with you for so long that you wanted to hang on to it?

SEXTON: Well, each year my class would do two or three big major projects. And I always kept one of those projects. And often it was this Black History project because I always asked the boys and girls what they wanted to be when they grew up. We would sing this song, when I grow up I'm going to be somebody special. And this was often the project I kept. So I don't only have Perry's work, I have -- I thought at Douglas for 24 years. And so I have hundreds of papers like his.

CAMEROTA: Wow. Your -- your system of organization is better than mine, I must say.

But seeing him -- I mean seeing that this second grader, you know, at eight years old wanted to be a Supreme Court justice. And then, of course, the, you know, tragic irony that he -- he wants to be on the highest court in the land and he dies at the hands of law enforcement is, you know, so profoundly sad.

And what was your reaction when you realized that the person in that video that we all watched was your student?

SEXTON: Just a really deep down sadness. I think so many of us have had that response. Just devastation and sadness. Just a really deep down sadness. And my heart breaks for his family.

And, you know, how could we have known that the little boy who -- who -- the little eight-year-old who drew this precious, delightful picture about justice and wanting to be a justice 38 years later would be -- his life would be taken. Sadly, I'm sure this isn't the way that he envisioned being famous or bringing justice.



CAMEROTA: I mean certainly -- certainly not since that was his aspiration at eight years old, that he wanted to be on the Supreme Court.


CAMEROTA: And so do you remember -- I mean beyond the drawing, did you stay in touch with George Floyd and do you remember him as a -- well, how do you remember him as an eight-year-old? Was he a hopeful kid?

SEXTON: Yes, he was. He was quiet. He didn't talk a lot. He was already that long, lanky little boy. And he loved -- we did a lot of singing and dancing in our classroom. And he enjoyed all of that. He enjoyed his friends. He was a good boy. He was a delight to have in the classroom.

CAMEROTA: Well, Waynel Sexton, thank you for sharing that with us. I mean it is just again profoundly sad to watch, you know, someone so young and the hopes that they have for the direction they hope their life will go in, and then to know what happened 38 years later.

Thank you very much for sharing the drawing and the story with us.

SEXTON: You're so welcome.

CAMEROTA: To sports. Well, actually, it's more than sports, it's cultural.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees under fire for comments about the NFL protests. Two members of the New England Patriots, the McCourty brothers, are going to join us with their reaction to Brees, next.



BERMAN: New blowback this morning after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees spoke out against kneeling during the national anthem, an act of protect made by many of his teammates to raise awareness about racial injustice.



DREW BREES, QUARTERBACK, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me -- let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the -- the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place.


BERMAN: Joining me now, twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty. They play for the New England Patriots and host "The Double Coverage" podcast.

Jason, if I can start with you, I want to do something. You know, I want your reaction to Drew Brees, but before we do that, I have a feeling that too often others are framing the discussion that you want to be having right now. So instead of reacting directly to Brees right away, tell me what you want to hear, what you need to hear from your white teammates and white America.

JASON MCCOURTY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PLAYER: To acknowledge that there's an issue and that there's a problem. The focus should be on that. It shouldn't be on anything other than that. And I think that's why everything is going on in our country that is right now is that people are starting to realize that we do have a problem, that we've had a problem for many years.


Of course there have been things that have changed in our country for the better, but it's not better for everyone. And I think that's what we should be acknowledging when we talk about this issue. And for anybody that has friends of any color, start to recognize that we -- we need to make change in our country.

Devin, to you, first of all, our condolences to you and your family. You're going through a personal tragedy right now on top of everything else.

When you heard Drew Brees say that, how did that feel?

DEVIN MCCOURTY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS PLAYER: It was a little surprising, but I think it's the stance that so many take, you know? And like Jason said, we want to hear about the issues. We don't want to hear about people who have fought in the military because we're not talking about them. Like, we have tremendous --

BERMAN: Jason, you're going to have to step in and speak for your brother, like you have no doubt many times before as an identical twin.

J. MCCOURTY: Yes, I was just about to say that the good thing being twins, we can sometimes tell what each other's thinking. But, like he said, we have a great amount of respect for those that have fought in the military and that have defended our freedom and our country for so many times. And I think that sometimes gets mixed up and it's a way of avoiding the issues and what people are really talking about.

When Kap first took a knee, this is what he was taking a knee for, to talk about and bring awareness to police brutality. And I think when we sometimes try to shift that and change that and make it about something that numerous have (ph) -- numerous times and many other people have told us, hey, this is not what this is about, we just take the focus away from the real issues.

BERMAN: Malcolm Jenkins, who's a teammate of Drew Brees right now said basically, if you don't understand how hurtful this is, you're part of the problem. And LeBron James tweeted afterwards basically the same thing, saying, why don't you understand what you are saying is hurtful?

What do you think of that?

J. MCCOURTY: I think those are just guys' raw emotion. We all deal with things that happen differently. We all deal with it the way that we see fit. I think even whether it's Malcom Jenkins, whether it's LeBron James or whether it's the young individual who's out peacefully protesting to talk about the issues, everyone wants to see change. And I think that's what we have to focus on. We have to focus on telling people to get out there and vote, to change who their local officials are, to get more progressive thinking minds and office (ph) to be able to make the change that we want to see fit. We have to talk about attacking legislation to change policy and different things that have gone on for many years to see the change really come to fruition.

BERMAN: What's is going to be like in the locker room when you go back this summer?

J. MCCOURTY: I think it's going to be an opportunity to uncomfortably have these discussions and to be able to really feel what each and every person in the locker room has gone through, not only myself, but there are so many guys within the locker room from so many different backgrounds, races, demographics, that allows us a special moment to be a melting pot and really in those -- in that situation really be able to care for one another and be able to understand and talk to each other about what our journey has been like. And I think that's the unique setting we have within the locker room is that, hey, we all have a common goal, we all want to do something special on the field.

But at the same time, we have a responsibility to get to know each other and build on things that we can do in the community. So I'm excited to see what a locker room will be like when you have 90 guys that are willing to care for one another and be able to make change together.

BERMAN: Do you think that you're going to have 90 guys willing to care for another and willing to make change for one another?

J. MCCOURTY: I think we -- I think we'll have 90 guys that are willing to respect each other. I think there's a different levels of caring. I think for guy who -- you're going to have some people that are willing to be on the front line. You think of guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Demario Davis. Guys that are willing to speak up and say, hey, there's a problem and I want to help change and I want to be a vessel to keep this thing moving and see change.

And you're going to have some guys that may just look up and go up to a guy in a locker room and say, hey, man, I appreciate what you're doing. I understand what you're going through. And they may not be willing to step out and say things or be in front of a camera and do things of that nature, but they respect the fact that somebody is doing it and they understand the point of view that they're doing from. And I think that's what's important. That's what shows respect to your teammates and shows respect to just being on a team and understanding that, hey, we're all different individuals, special in our own rights. And we just -- we just can respect that and move forward.

BERMAN: Do you anticipate you and your teammates will be kneeling when the season begins?

J. MCCOURTY: I think when Kap first took a knee four years ago, he took a knee to bring attention and to bring awareness to the issues that were going on in our country, surrounding things like police brutality. And I think over the last four years, the one thing we can say that he accomplished is, he brought the attention and he brought the awareness.

And I think at this point the focus has to be on, what is the action?


What is the plan moving forward? How are we making change and how do we plan to continue to make change?

To me, the message or the main point was never about any protest to the flag or the national anthem of that such. To me, right now, that's what the focus should be on when the season starts.

I mean we have a whole pandemic going on and no one even knows when we'll be reporting to camp or when we'll be playing in our first game. So I think when all of that -- in due time those discussions will happen with all of that. But, right now, the last thing we should be thinking about is an anthem or a protest. We need to be focusing on why people are out protesting and we want to see change.

BERMAN: Your podcast is "Double Coverage." I know you're going to do a special edition of this, a Bridge to Action, with your brother. That should be very interesting.

Jason McCourty, thank you for being with us. Please give us -- our best to your brother as well. We appreciate the message you're sending.

J. MCCOURTY: We'll do. Thanks for having us. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right.

We'll be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We demand justice. My father shouldn't have been killed.