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Three of Four Ex-Officers Arraigned in George Floyd's Death; First of Several Memorials to George Floyd Held Thursday; George Floy's Passenger Said He Did Not Resist; Interview with Opal Tometi, Cofounder, Black Lives Matter, Protests Over Death of George Floyd and Arrests of the Police Officers; CDC Director Says Protesters Should Be Tested for Coronavirus; Economists Say U.S. Unemployment Could Approach 20 Percent. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 04:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Just 4 a.m. on the East Coast in the U.S. Welcome to our viewer joining us from the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Eleven days now since George Floyd was killed and now all four fired police officers involved in his death have been charged. Three appeared in a Minneapolis courtroom on Thursday formally charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. The officer who pinned Floyd's neck to the pavement was not in court. Prosecutors upgraded the original charge of third-degree murder to second degree felony murder.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, SINGING: Praise God oh, praise God praise God.


VAUSE: Not far from the courtroom an emotional memorial service for George Floyd. At one point they stood in silence, 8 minutes 46 seconds. That's how long one police officer push down in Floyd's neck with his knee. In the days since Floyd died protests have been held around the world and now a curfew in Washington, D.C., has been lifted. But a new chain-link security fence and barricades are surrounding the White House keeping protestors, reporters and everyone else blocks away from the people's house.

George Floyd the man was honored at a memorial in Minneapolis on Thursday. The service had well-known public figures standing beside Floyd's family and friends. Details now from CNN's Miguel Marquez.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Moments of prayer and reflection at the first memorial service for George Floyd.

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: Everybody wants justice. We want justice for George. He is going to get it. He is going to get it.

BRADLEY FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I want you guys to know that he would stand up for any injustice everywhere. Can you all please say his name?

CROWD: George Floyd.

BRADLEY FLOYD: Thank you all.

MARQUEZ: As the city and a country mourn Floyd killed by Minneapolis Police, which has sparked ten days of protest and outrage.

REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: The reason why we are marching all over the world is we were like George. We couldn't breathe. Not because there was something wrong with our lungs, but you wouldn't take your knee off our neck. We don't want no favors. Just get up off of us. And we can be and do whatever we can be.

MARQUEZ: The three former police officers that either held Floyd down or stood by and watched made their first court appearance after being charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, all being held on at least $750,000 in bail.

Police here have released highly redacted personnel records on the four officers, including a 2007 incident where Derek Chauvin now charged with second-degree murder was reprimanded after claims he needlessly removed a woman from her car.

KEITH ELLISON, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MINNESOTA: It's very difficult to hold police accountable even when there is violation of law.

MARQUEZ: And there are new details from a friend who was in the car with Floyd during the arrest. Maurice Lester Hall telling "The New York Times," he was from the beginning trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting in no form or way. I could hear him pleading, please, officer, what's all this for?

Today, thousands protested by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge joined by Floyd's brother, Terrence. And as Floyd's life is remembered in Minneapolis, new questions are being raised about other cases of police using controversial neck restraint in Tacoma, Washington.

SHARPTON: We're going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


VAUSE: And a friend was in the car with George Floyd when he was detained by Minneapolis police officers. Maurice Lester Hall was a witness to the entire incident. He described to CNN's Chris Cuomo what he saw and heard. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAURICE HALL, WITNESS AND FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: The energy was set wrong by the police when they approached him because they approached with like an energy where it startled Mr. Floyd, that's what I believe.


And he was just trying to diffuse the situation as best as humbly that he could. The man asked him what did he want him to do. Mr. George, and then, the cop said, Put your hands up. Show me your hands. Floyd showed them hands. Put his hands in the air, as a sign of here go my hands. I'm not moving in the vehicle. I'm not trying to -- I'm not trying to flee, or no such --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: George was saying things like that. George was saying things like I'm good. I'm not going to do anything. Here it is? He was speaking that way.

HALL: By - by actions.

CUOMO: By actions.

HALL: By showing them here's my hand over the steering wheel. When he shows his hands, he put them over the steering wheel, the cops reached in, and grabs his arms.

CUOMO: Got it.

HALL: When he grabs his arms, George asked the cop, why are you grabbing me with the use of force? Why are you doing this? You asked to see my hand. Here go my hands. He's a big fella. Now, it's a cop. One officer is tussling with George hands, while George is still sitting in a peaceful form. He's in his vehicle. And the cop is like it seems as if he was trying to pull him out or something. All George was doing was just trying to stay humble and try to be relaxed as possible. And once they dragged him out of the vehicle he stood up. And once they dragged him out the vehicle, and he stood up, the cop that was on his side, those two cops, they -- I get -- I don't know, they was intimidated maybe.

I don't know what they were thinking at the time. But they -- George, he then was in peacefullest form. He retreated to his knees saying, hey man, in so many words, I don't - I've been hurt. I've been hurt, officer, please officer.

You know, in other words, like why are you all detaining or using such force right now with me?

CUOMO: You think the officers knew that George was suffering and struggling the way he was?

HALL: The one that -- the guy that was on his neck for that long, I really believe from that -- watching that video, he looked down and studied and knew. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Four ex-cops first arrested and then appearing in court. That in itself is a milestone for this country which has a history of not prosecuting cases like this. It's hard to find any record of even one police officer charged with second degree felony murder let alone four accused at the same time. And without the days and nights of mass nationwide protest, chances are it would never happen. This is a rare confluence of events coming together which could make this moment a possible turning point in the history of the United States. For more on that, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Opal Tometi Is with us now from Los Angeles. So thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. We appreciate it very much.

OPAL TOMETI, COFOUNDER, BLACK LIVES MATTER: Thanks so much for having me.

VAUSE: OK, so these protests, they're now about a lot more than obviously, the murder of Mr. Floyd. But today justice for George Floyd came one very big step closer, you know, with these four officers -- well three in court, for charged. Have you allowed yourself time to think about what that moment actually means, how far your movement has come in the last couple of years?

TOMETI: You know, it is an incredible moment I will be really honest. Seeing people from all walks of life, seeing a vibrant multi-racial movement for black lives emerged not only in this country but around the world. It is remarkable. It's unprecedented to see at this level and we are counting our wins in this moment.

However, we also know that this is just the beginning. We can't, you know, count our eggs before they hatch and this is only one part of what we've been demanding. People are looking at the system and looking for change wholesale.

VAUSE: Yes, it seems a stop on the way. A good stop but a stop, nonetheless. And the way Mr. Floyd died that's rare. Because on average each year more than a thousand people are shot dead by police. Some legitimate circumstances. But the website FiveThirtyEight reports that since 2005, 110 law enforcement officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter in an on-duty shooting. 42 were convicted, 50 were not, 18 cases remain pending. That's less than 3 convictions for murder a year out of more than a thousand deadly shootings. So clearly a lot of police officers have been getting away with murder. And for the most part nonblack America has been blissfully unaware.

TOMETI: Absolutely. People have been unaware. They've been silenced and it's been going on in our communities for generations. And so why we created Black Lives Matter was to put a stop to the willful and negligent silence around these issues. It's been seven years since we started. It's going to be eight in July and we're going to keep on pushing forward to ensure that our lives matter. To ensure that we are defending black lives and that we're investing in black communities because that's what we actually need.


VAUSE: There have been a lot of comparisons with this moment and the race riots of 1968. But there does seem to be a very major difference and it's obvious when you look. I want to show you some photographs. Because on one side -- will take a look -- Kansas City, April 9, 1968. That's a black-and-white, an older looking photograph I should say. Not a white person to be seen. But on the other side Kansas City on Thursday -- that's on the left-hand side of the screen.

And here's Atlanta 1968 in the days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Just below that same city 52 years later. The same struggle but on the front lines of that protest, white people, black people, Latinos, Asians, the whole mixed bag. So tell me, what's driving the diversity of the protesters here. Because we're in the midst of a pandemic. People are coming out to risking their lives to protect the lives of black Americans at the hands of police.

TOMETI: You know, honestly, I think it's people are waking up. They're looking around, they've had time sitting in their homes or really navigating what's going to take place with their lives and their livelihoods and they've been able to take stock of what's happening in this country. And they're looking around and they're seeing that their neighbors are being profiled and targeted. They're seeing that the members of the black people in the community are being harassed and being murdered on camera. And people are tired. They're frustrated. They are disgusted and besides themselves with what's been going on. And they finally have some time and you know, some space to be able to show up and join the protests in the rallies. And their cautiousness is awake. It's amazing to see this.

Quite honestly as I've been talking with different people in my community, I'm seeing that people were aware before but this video and the consecutive murders. So you have Brianna Taylor, you have Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others around the country. People are just sick and tired. They do not want this nation to go in this direction any longer. And they're fed up. They've been hearing our protests and the chants and everything for so long. And I think that they are realizing that things aren't going to change unless they get up off the sidelines and that their silence is complicity. And we're seeing a sea change in this moment and it's really heartening.

VAUSE: Well, good and heartening to this because I've been trying to work out where President Trump fits into all of this. He's taking a very hard line, sort of head kicker approach, if you like. It seems to have backfired on him, hasn't it?

TOMETI: It has. You know what, people are looking at the situation that they've been in. They've been living hands to mouth and we can tell by the ways in which people had to race to these soup kitchens and to food pantries in the wake of the pandemic. We saw 40 million more people lose their jobs, people who don't know where their health insurance is going to come from. People who are suffering and concerned with their light bills, their rent, their mortgage payments, so on. And so, people are really fed up that we don't have a solution comprehensively. And then they see the brutality that's happening in the community and they've just had enough. They've had enough of this, the way the government is operating right now.

VAUSE: It does seem bizarre that at this moment in the midst of a pandemic, it's that pandemic which has brought so many people together.

TOMETI: It has. It's made us empathize and appreciate one another and rely on one another. I think one of the things we've been seeing across the country is this emergence of mutual aid groups. People who are connecting with each another, ensuring that their neighbors are OK. Ensuring that the people in their community have the resources that they need. So people have been already showing up and ensuring that they keep each other safe and supported in this time. And so, I think this just is an extension of that. Knowing that we are responsible for caring for our neighbor, that our lives are intertwined and we have a duty to show up and ensure that this democracy works for everybody. And it's incredible to see that people are making this known not only from the pandemic of the virus but also this pandemic of racism.

VAUSE: Yes. I will say it's been an absolute pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

TOMETI: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Opal Tometi there, cofounder, Black Lives Matter, in Los Angeles. Take care.



VAUSE: Well, those images of crowded protests in multiple cities have U.S. health officials concerned about a surge in a number of coronavirus infections. CDC director, Robert Redfield, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday. Protesters should be tested within three to seven days. He added that tear gas used by police is likely to increase the spread of the virus.

Worldwide almost 400,000 people have now died from the coronavirus with both Brazil and Mexico setting devastating new records. Earlier I spoke with Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider a specialist in internal medicine at the California Pacific Medical Center. She explained how these protests could increase the spread of the coronavirus and what protestors should be doing to try and stay safe.


VAUSE: We're now into day ten of these protests. The incubation period for COVID-19 well on average is for 10 days, can take to 14. So our we close or very close to the time when we should start to see an uptick in the number of infections?

DR. SHOSHANA UNGERLEIDER, PHYSICIAN, INTERNAL MEDICINE: Yes, you know that's right. We very likely will see a big uptick. I think it's quite inevitable. You know, I have to say racism is a public health issue in this country and standing up against police brutality is critical, but I am definitely concerned about the safety and well-being of protesters. So despite folks being outdoors, people are packed very tightly together which makes social distancing impossible. I very much expect, along with other public health officials, that we're going to see a spike in the number of cases unfortunately.


VAUSE: Well an epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins agrees with you on that point. He tweeted this.

We should always evaluate the risks and benefits of efforts to control the virus. In this moment, the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harm of the virus. OK, so given that, what can people do in these crowds to keep themselves safe. Because you mentioned you can't social distance. You can wear a mask. What else?

UNGERLEIDER: Well, you can definitely wash your hands often. Absolutely, as you said, wear a mask. You can try to convene with smaller groups of people to maintain social distance. The one thing to know, is that when you're yelling, you're expelling particles further from your mouth than you would be if you were talking or if you were staying quiet. So using noise makers instead is actually a better way to keep others safe and really evaluating whether or not before you leave home thinking about your own age, the age and health of the folks that live in your home with you, those that you care for. You know, that's how we evaluate our personal risk in terms of becoming seriously ill from COVID. And I think it's really important, of course, that people exercise their rights to peacefully protest but it's important to think about the individual risk when leaving the home to gather in groups.

VAUSE: As if life wasn't complicated already with this pandemic. It's causing a whole lot of problems. There will also be a lot more memorials in the days ahead. We already had one on Thursday. They were gathering to remember George Floyd. There was a memorial service held in Minneapolis. A couple of people there were wearing masks but not a lot. You know, this is a sad moment. People need some kind of human contact, some comfort. But when we look at these images here of people trying to hug and console each other, what should they be doing?

UNGERLEIDER: Gosh, it's such a tricky time, right. Because you want people to come together in community. The process of mourning is so important for closure. Coming together with the people that you know and love is really critical especially when dealing with loss. You know, I don't have a great answer. I think that wearing masks, I think being thoughtful about your own personal risk based on age and underlying health condition is important. There are ways that people can connect virtually, right, to do online memorials if you can, if you feel like it's unsafe to be with others at this point. But it's a very tough situation.


VAUSE: Well last month is expected to have seen another record number of jobless claims in the U.S. Unemployment continues to climb even as the economy slowly restarts. Confirmation of the bad news expected in the coming hours. In the meantime CNN's John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi with us. So we're going to take a closer look at what we're expecting here. And May is looking at, what, I think about 8 million jobless claims for a pretty big total overall.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: A big, big total, actually, John. Terrible numbers but I think there is a silver lining here. This could be the worse where it slows down dramatically for the report in the month of June. Perhaps it can provide some solace for those going through the pandemic and wondering if they can get rehired in the second half of the year as they have these unemployment benefits.

I'm focusing on three big numbers. This report will come out just over 4 hours time and a big focus on Wall Street. The 8 million you're talking about, John, is something you're probably never see again in our lifetime. An extraordinary number after that big spike that we saw in April. That would take the total to better than 28 million, probably 28.5. And take the unemployment rate very close to 20 percent, something we haven't seen since the great recession in 1933 when it topped out at 24.9.

Now with all the protests we see on the streets and the killing of George Floyd, there is a lot more focus on black unemployment. There is a line item there in the monthly report. It soared to 16 percent in April. That will likely go higher despite all the blacks or the African-Americans working in the service sector right now. And there is an assumption being made here, particularly by the U.S. President, that in the second half of the year the hiring will be at a very fast pace. That may be misleading because if the consumer doesn't feel confident about spending right now or the future of their job, this will impact of course the rehiring pace. Oxford Economics for one, was suggesting that we still see unemployment at 10 percent, half about the level that we have now by the end of the year.

VAUSE: We're also looking at a situation where, you know, not everyone is hurting during this pandemic, certainly from an economic point of view. The rich as often is the case getting richer.

DEFTERIOS: Yes. Talk about inequality, John. 43 million Americans have filed for the jobless benefits in the period of time that they have lost their job. And, in the meantime, the better than 600 billion heirs in America have seen their income rise in a substantial way.


If you look at the numbers here, $565 billion since the trough of March 18th. That's extraordinary. The total wealth now stands at $3.5 trillion. In case you're wondering, it's about a fifth of the country's GDP in the hands of 614 people. That is a number that is mind boggling. A couple of standouts, of course, Amazon was in demand, of course, during the pandemic. Jeff Bezos saw his total income rise $36 billion or his holdings. Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, social media in big demand right now. His has gone up $30 billion. So you have a case right now, the have and the have notes and the billionaires because of the Fed stimulus package meant to revive the economy, has seen the stock market recover about 40 percent. Right into the bottom line of the upper 1/10 of 1 percent. Let's put it that way -- John.

Maybe next week we talk about the dissolutions or sort of the delusion on the stock market at the moment between reality and what's actually going on and where the stock market is at, but next week. John, thank you. John Defterios in Abu Dhabi.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come here. More than a week of protests across the United States over the violent death of George Floyd. But the big question is still out there. What happens next. The mayor of Atlanta has a message of hope.


KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA MAYOR: I stand here today, the 60th mayor of Atlanta. The direct descendent of slaves in this state. Because my forefathers believed that there is something better on the other side. And what I'm saying to you all today, there is something better on the other side of this. There's something better on the other side of this for us and there's something better on the other side of this for our children's children.