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Interview With Killer Mike; Minneapolis Votes to Ban Police Choke Holds. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired June 5, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Let's begin with breaking news out of Minneapolis, where the City Council, in what it calls an effort to spark systematic change, has just voted in favor of significant changes to its police department.
Of course, this move comes after nearly two weeks after the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of this four MPD police officers, all of whom have now been fired and charged.
So, let's start in Minneapolis.
Miguel Marquez is there live.
Miguel, talk to me about these changes.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is significant, but not only here in Minneapolis, but across the country, they will have a very long way to go to bring the sort of equality that they are concerned about.
The City Council -- and it sounds like the mayor has now signed it, but there may be one more step -- has said that choke holds, across the board, including that knee-to-the-neck restraint, that is not supposed to be used for a long period of time and it's not supposed to be used if someone is not resisting, that all of that is now no longer part of the Minneapolis police practices and procedures.
In addition to that, they have told police officers that they now have to not only report it if those sort of controversial moves are used, but they must intervene at the time that those types of moves, maneuvers are used.
In that same order, they have also said that non-lethal use of pepper spray or of tear gas, like we have seen so much in the city, that now has to be signed off by the police chief himself. Also, they want -- they have signed off on civilian review of body cam footage. And they also want quicker discipline decisions.
And that was also now signed off on. But not only in Minneapolis, but across the country, the concerns go deep into the justice system, not just policing and practices. So I think this will certainly be more welcome news here, but I think people want more now. They want to see an equality at a very deep level. And that will take years and lots of pushing and effort from the federal level down to the states to get to the level that people here would like to see -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's a start. It's a start.
Miguel Marquez, thank you.
And as the world prepares for an 11th day of protests in the wake of George Floyd's death, shocking new videos are emerging of new incidents of police brutality during those protests and elsewhere.
In this one video posted by "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" there on YouTube, a woman is shown being body-slammed -- look at this -- by
an Atlanta officer outside of Lenox Mall. You heard her screaming. This is during the first night of demonstrations in that city.
CNN doesn't know what preceded the incident shown in that video, let me say that, which moves before she hits the ground and then cuts to her being lifted by her arm while handcuffed.
I should say, too, we have reached out to the Atlanta Police Department for comment, including a police report, and to determine if the officer is facing any disciplinary action. So, we have yet to hear back there.
Let's talk about Buffalo, New York, now. This 75-year-old man is in the hospital right now in serious, but stable condition, after being -- watch it -- knocked down by police and suffering a head injury that left him bleeding on the sidewalk.
The governor of New York said the video made him sick to his stomach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I just spoke with Mr. Gugino on the phone, who is that gentleman, who, thankfully, is alive.
But you see that video, and it disturbs your basic sense of decency and humanity. Why? Why? Why was that necessary? Where was the threat? Older gentleman, where was the threat? And then you just walk by the person while you see blood coming from his head, and police officers walk by.
It's just fundamentally offensive and frightening. It's just frightening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN's Alexandra Field is with me now.
And what's also disturbing is that the initial police report on this incident was changed only once the video surfaced. So tell us what officials said initially and now what they're saying.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, you heard the governor calling this frightening. And it is.
Those images are frightening. The series of events are disturbing as well. Police put out a statement saying initially that this man had injured himself after he tripped and fell. You saw the video. It is clear that he is knocked down.
The mayor of Buffalo quickly came out and said that it was clear to him as well that two officers had shoved this 75-year-old man to the ground.
A spokesperson has now said that the initial report was based on a single video, and that other additional videos then became available, which changed the city's understanding, apparently, of what had happened.
But, again, if you see that video, it is clear to everyone exactly what happened. That's why the mayor says he was deeply disturbed and distressed by what he saw. He said the police commissioner shared his view, that the two officers were immediately suspended without pay, that an investigation was launched.
And now you have got the Erie County district attorney's office also investigating what happened. We're told investigators have not been able to speak to the 75-year-old man who was pushed to the ground, left there bleeding from his head. But we do know that Governor Cuomo was able to speak to him. That at least is a good sign -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Alex Field.
Thank you, Alex.
And these incidents just -- over just the course of the last week are also noteworthy because of a trend observed among them. An altercation takes place. Police put out an inaccurate report about what happened, blatantly lying about their involvement. Then videos go viral. And only then is the department force to clarify.
I just cannot overstate the power of these videos. But why is it the first instinct of some police officers to lie?
With me now, rapper, activist, friend Michael Render, otherwise known as Killer Mike.
So, Mike, you know I love you. Thank you so much for coming on. I have got a lot of questions for you.
So let's just start with -- we have talked about this. Your dad was an Atlanta police officer. Your cousin is an officer in East Point. I have been in your barbershops. You invite officers into your SWAG Shops to mingle with members of the community.
MICHAEL "KILLER MIKE" RENDER, RAPPER/ACTIVIST: Yes. Yes.
BALDWIN: But these lies from police, not in every case, but in Buffalo, initially in Minneapolis with George Floyd, and even in the arrest of our own correspondent one week ago, what do you want to say about that?
RENDER: Yes. Yes.
I want to say shame on those police officers, because they make policing more dangerous for other police officers, and they make it supremely dangerous. They make it supremely dangerous to the public. The public should not have to worry that the people who are paid to serve and protect them could potentially be the people that are taking their lives and lying about circumstance.
And I would like to take the time to point people to an Instagram account called Mr. Checkpoint. He has a philosophy that says, always film the beliefs. There's another legal one, Pot Brothers at Law. Those guys also suggest that you film the police and it will make you aware of your rights.
It's time that we stop just complaining about the evils that the system creates in these types of officers, and we become proactive, proactive like the Atlanta Citizens Review Board in Atlanta. And we need to punish police officers that lie, because this is the ultimate betrayal of the public trust.
BALDWIN: I want to talk about solutions in a second. But I was reading "The New York Times" this morning. There was this incredibly powerful opinion piece. It was written by Wesley Morris.
And this is his lead line, Mike: "The most urgent filmmaking anybody's doing in this country right now is by black people with camera phones."
RENDER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
That -- it's -- technology has finally allowed the truth to come out where lies once existed. And I want people to understand that black people have been enduring this, this vigilante -- the vigilante-like atmosphere that went on in Brunswick, Georgia, the policemen with warrants that they aren't even sure about and lie about, like the death of Breonna.
We have been here before. We were here during the lynching and hanging period. We were here during the slave catching period. We have been telling people this has been happening. And, finally, when cameras happened, when a 75-year-old white man is nearly killed two weeks after a black man in Buffalo, on camera -- they shoved that man as though they were Nazi officers walking past a forgotten Jewish person that they were walking into the burn -- into the death chamber.
It's evil. And it's not that I'm pointing out and saying, each individual officer is evil. The system of policing has become something that is corrupt. And we have to change the system of policing in America, so that citizens don't have to be afraid of the people that we pay to protect.
BALDWIN: So, let's talk about that. When you look at the case just in Minneapolis with George Floyd, those four officers, they have now all been charged, but this is far from over, right?
As you point out, the system is broken.
BALDWIN: So, when it comes to policing in this country, Mike, give me specifics. What three things can happen right now at any individual police department just to ensure a change of culture in police?
RENDER: The biggest thing that can happen is empowered citizens review boards.
If the police are our public servants, then the public needs to have a board that oversees those servants. This board should be comparable to the power of any deputy chief or any internal investigator or anything internally. We need a review board outside of the police department to police the police department.
We also need to change the culture of drug war policing. Drug war policing makes no sense, to the point, why would you put DEA agents in crowds at protests? It's just furthering the limiting of your rights.
So, I would say, citizens review board. I would say legislation to change the militarization of police. We don't need police in tanks and full riot gear, because, most of the time, there are not reasons to have tanks and full riot gear in any American city.
So, the review boards, the changing of tactics is something that I would legislate. And, ultimately, the third I don't know. I think that we should defer to the people who are already doing the work to increased violence.
And I think that they're grassroots and national organizations that do that. And those are the ones that I would lean to.
BALDWIN: When you mentioned the militarization of police force, I instantly thought of the images we saw at the White House earlier this week, right, the rubber bullets, the tear gas as the president was walking to the church for what was quite literally a photo-op, which makes me think of President Trump.
And, Mike, I got to ask you. He was in the Rose Garden today. He invoked George Floyd's name.
In case anyone's missed this, roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all saw what happened last week. We can't let that happen.
Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, this is a great thing that's happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It's a great day for everybody. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And then, just to juxtapose Mike, you have the president saying -- not even 24 hours ago, he shared this letter on Twitter that referred to the peaceful protesters who were forcibly dispersed, as I was alluding to, from a park near the White House Monday, he was referring to them as terrorists.
So, you have terrorists, Mike, and this is a great day, to me, tone- deaf.
BALDWIN: What do you think?
RENDER: I'm just firmly disgusted that he would think that a black man that was murdered for police officers who were truly cowards in uniform would look down and approve of the way this country is now treating other citizens.
I think Mr. Floyd would be disgusted by the videos he's put up asking young black men to look positive and change their life, and complaining about the evils of this country. I have no doubt that he would be disgusted. I have no doubt that he would firmly be on the side of the protesters, the rioters, and after the protests and riots, the organizers who are organizing to make sure that the evil that is in the system loses.
In terms of Mr. Trump, you know what you got. America promoted a casino owner to the highest office in the land, and now you're dealing with it.
The question becomes, what are you going to do in November? What are you going to do past November? What are you going to do on a local level to organize, to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize? There are people already doing this work. There are grassroots organizers around the countries. And they need bodies.
They need more hands on deck. And after the protests, it's our job to find them out, to find -- to seek them out, to find them, and to help them fight against the highest office, the highest person in office in this land, because the things that are being said are borderline evil, not just disgusting.
BALDWIN: Speaking of the nation's highest office -- or I know we have talked. You're so passionate about all things local.
Any office, Mike, a lot of people want to know if you would run. I'm going to ask you if you would run. Hold that thought.
We're back with Killer Mike in just a moment.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Killer Mike is standing by. We will pick up on our conversation in just a moment.
But, first, we are learning new details about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, those details being revealed during a preliminary hearing in which an investigator testify that Arbery's killer used a racial slur after shooting the unarmed black man in a Georgia neighborhood.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Brunswick, Georgia.
Martin, what have you learned?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, many in this community and in this case are still reeling from the testimony of yesterday, where the prosecution seemed to deliberately interject the suggestion that it was overt racism, at least on the part of one of the suspects, that played into potentially the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man who was running through the neighborhood back in February.
The prosecutors outlined that day as three men -- that is, Travis and Gregory McMichael, the son and father, and then also one William "Roddie" Bryan -- apparently used two pickup trucks to chase Ahmaud Arbery in the neighborhood very aggressively, and used their vehicles to attempt not only to stop him, but at times cut him off as it appeared that he was trying flee from the neighborhood.
And the prosecution sort of described it as a hunt. They used those very vivid kind of terms. It was also revealed that cell phone video that many of us have now seen that captures the moment at which Ahmaud Arbery is killed, well, apparently there is more of that video.
That's the cell phone of William "Roddie" Bryan that also seemed to imply why Bryan was arrested and is accused of being more of a participant than just an observer. And then we get to the issue of racial hatred.
It was introduced by a GBI agent, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, under testimony, who essentially said that their research, their investigation has determined there are a number of posts by Travis McMichael -- that's the man with the shotgun who kills Ahmaud Arbery -- that are racist in nature and description.
And then they recount something that was overheard by William "Roddie" Bryan of Travis McMichael as he's standing over the body of Ahmaud Arbery just after he's killed him. This is that moment in testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD DIAL, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SPECIAL AGENT: Mr. Bryan said that, after the shooting took place, before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make a statement (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: And just to be clear, what is said there is "F-ing N-word."
In other words, it is a curse, and then on top of that a racial slur. It stunned the courtroom. But the point being made by many here is that it will not impact the case, because, as you know, in Georgia, there is no hate law.
So, they will be tried for murder, but they can't be tried as part of a hate crime attached to it, unless -- and this is what many people hope will happen -- is that the federal government gets involved and that the FBI and the DOJ, Department of Justice, investigate this case as a hate crime on the federal level -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Martin, thank you in Georgia.
Let me bring back Killer Mike.
And, Mike, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Jamar Clark. Today would have been Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday. I could keep going.
If we don't -- to your point a second ago, like, if we don't like what's happening in this country, go vote. You're saying it. George Floyd's brothers are saying it. Former President Barack Obama is saying it.
But how do you address the apathy among the voting and the protesting public? I was listening to "Run the Jewels 4" for this morning, and you are rapping about it very viscerally in "Walking in the Snow."
BALDWIN: How do you address it?
Well, I say, truly the tragedy, you have been robbed of your empathy, replaced with apathy. And in that verse, I also describe that they're coming for you the day after they are coming for me.
And you can tell a black man is suffocated two weeks prior, and then a white man is pushed over again, as though they're walking him into an internment camp. Now he's in the hospital.
It doesn't matter color. Ultimately, the system is crushed whoever opposes it who is at the bottom. So, we have to understand, when we talk about systemic things, the day after all black people are in control or eviscerated or whatever racist things, please understand they're coming for you.
It sickens me that, at this point in this country, we do not understand that it is truly the us vs. a tiny amount of masters we have.
Even out of my criticism of President Trump news and his handling of the situation, the same criticism could be levied on Obama, the same criticism can be leveled on Bush I and II. The same criticism could be laid all the way back to any president you name, because police have been given autonomy to do this.
So we have to start to understand it is the system we fight. It's a philosophical evil in the system that places us below people that we give authority over us. And that's something that we have to overturn within my lifetime.
And it won't take years. It takes a decision of the American public to say, this ends now. This system ends now as we know it, and it will never exist again.
BALDWIN: I was texting about you this morning with Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta.
And I asked Keisha to just talk about you. This is what she texted me back: "Killer Mike represents all that Atlanta could ever hope to be. He is a son of our community. He fights for our community. He works to create and elevate excellence in our community. He speaks our truth, and the world listens."
And I know Mayor Bottoms is doing her own excellent work in Atlanta and has been floated as a potential V.P. candidate for Joe Biden.
But back to you, Mike.
BALDWIN: Would you run for office?
RENDER: I would run a lot of places--
RENDER: -- as I'm running, trying to lose some more weight.
I have never thought of running for any office past a local level. I have never thought of running past anything that was, say, school board or city council. I have always flirted with the idea jokingly in my mind, but I think, at some point in the future, it would not be wild to expect me to run for office, because I see a need to in my local community.
Now, I want to save just two people on the other side of the camera. I'm a rapper. I sing and dance for a living. But, before I was a rapper, I was a community organizer. Before I was a community organizer, I was a product of the Collier Heights community. Google that.
I'm a product of Frederick Douglass High School. Thank you to Dr. Samuel Hill, who led the school while I was there, who made sure that people like me, T.I., and Keisha Lance Bottoms, who were all his students, performed for excellence and not just average.
So, if and when I ever do run for office, know that I will try to be an excellent public servant, and not just average.
I also want to tell people that are organizing on the ground, you run for office, and let me come out and support you in any way I can.
BALDWIN: You mentioned Collier Heights.
It was a year ago in the spring when you took me to the home where you were raised. You and I are from Atlanta.
BALDWIN: We have talked about this.
RENDER: Yes. Yes.
BALDWIN: We are from very different parts of Atlanta. We had very different experiences growing up.
BALDWIN: But despite our obvious differences, we have become friends.
BALDWIN: And I so admire you.
And the best -- Mike, the best piece of advice you gave me some years ago was actually after we were talking about what happened to Mike Brown in Ferguson.
And you said to me: "Brooke, you need to make sure you have friends that don't look like you, don't go to the same church as you."
RENDER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
BALDWIN: And I want you -- for folks who are not on the inside of our conversation, and especially in this climate, Mike, why is that so damn important?
RENDER: It's important because my friends are the Swartz brothers, who help produce my album. My friends are Vikram, an East Indian man who directed my television show.
My friends are Jaime Meline and brother and rap partner. My friends are a diverse tapestry of people. And like Seth Godin's book "Tribes" tells us that, essentially, you're representing your group. You're connecting people by being willing to befriend and to be ally and be brothers and sisters with people who aren't like us.
And it's high time we do it. Racism has only existed for 500 years, because the Catholic Church gave permission to the Portuguese and the Spanish to subjugate human beings into different categories, so that some could be used for labor. Like, we know that. We can undo that. Jane Elliott told us that we
could undo racism in this country in 20 years. That's why I advise all my white friends and counterparts to go watch her blue-eye, brown-eye experiment, because once you are taught that by an educator -- and she is an educator -- that, once that happens, your mind is open to understand and see the true history and change it.
I believe that it is possible, it is only possible if we engage in self-education, and if our education system changes in a way so that we aren't reproducing the same thing. Racism is only 500 years old.
We can get rid of racism in our lifetime, if we choose to.
BALDWIN: Killer Mike, you are a special human, indeed. I could talk to you all hour.
Mike, I appreciate it, seriously. Thank you so much.
RENDER: I sincerely love and appreciate you. I think that -- I'm glad that you got better, beat COVID, and I will see you in Atlanta with my wife.
BALDWIN: You thank your wife for sending me all those vitamins. That was a big box of stuff she sent me. So, bless Sha. Thank you.
RENDER: All right, love.
BALDWIN: Love. Love.
Coming up here on CNN: The former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he agrees with General James Mattis on the president dividing the nation.
Plus: Why did the vice president invite a couple of ladies who have publicly slammed George Floyd into a meeting on race?
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We're back in a moment.