Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Day 10 of Protests Remains Largely Peaceful; Protesters Across U.S. Demand Social Justice; Investigator Says Evidence of Racist Attitude Toward Arbery; Iran Frees Navy Veteran in Deal with U.S.; Putin Approves State of Emergency Over Fuel Spill; Street Artists Paint Tributes to George Floyd Worldwide; Crump: The Fight for Every Victim is a Fight for America's Soul. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:30:00]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause with more of our breaking news coverage.

Another day of peace full protests expected in cities across the United States after demonstrations overnight. In Brooklyn, New York, police stopped and talked with demonstrators who were out on the streets despite an 8 p.m. curfew. Others in Manhattan were arrested but without incident. Tensions were eased with dialogue here in Atlanta, Georgia. The city's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, told protesters there's something better on the other side of all of this. In Washington crowds gathered near the White House and the U.S. capital, but a sudden rainstorm late Thursday cleared out a lot of those demonstrators. Earlier in the day workers erected new barricades and fencing surrounding the White House.

Peniel Joseph is a history professor at the University of Texas in Austin. The author of a new book "The Sword and The Shield." Now earlier I asked him what America can learn from what's been a tumultuous time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PENIEL JOSEPH, HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN: Well, I think that we have a generational opportunity to transform American democracy to end institutional racism, to defeat white supremacy. I think that the end goal is really anti-racism and anti-racist policies. The policies that pursue racial justice. Not just in the criminal justice system but the criminal justice system is a gateway to panoramic systems of racial and economic oppression and exclusion.

We've already seen it happen, John. In L.A., the mayor has announced that 100 to $150 million that was scheduled for the police budget is going to go into communities of colors and disadvantaged communities. City of Austin is looking to do the same thing. Other different cities and city councils at the local level and I think states are going to be doing it at the state level are looking to redirect money to right size their police departments and use the extra money to invest in everything from early child care to invest in decarceration. To invest in desegregation of both neighborhoods and public schools. To invest and provide incentives that aren't about tax breaks but are about racial integration. When we think about gentrification and revitalizing cities.

So there's a whole lot of policies that need to be changed and a whole lot of new policies to be implemented. And even though there's not much presidential leadership or federal leadership happening here, the game is really within local municipalities and states. So the next election of course counts and is important. But the federal government -- the biggest thing the federal government can do is provide more leadership and then resources. So right now Washington is absolutely broken and fundamentally flawed. And so people are taking it on themselves.

And I can't tell you just in the last week how many white colleagues and friends, but people who are in the business, the faith, the entrepreneurial communities, including sports and others, have reached out wondering how they can help both in terms of resources, both in terms of listening, in terms of transforming this situation. So I do think absolutely this is something different. And the way in which it's going to be sustained, all of us who are interested in racial justice, social justice in reimagining American democracy, we have to roll up our sleeves and do that hard work. You can't be cynical. You can't be a skeptic. You have to be hopeful and optimistic. But that hope and optimism comes with real policy goals and with hard work every day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Also calls for justice in the Ahmaud Arbery case -- the 25- year-old black man was out jogging before being chased and shot and killed in a horrific scene. Now investigators in the state of Georgia are sharing new details. CNN's Martin Savidge was in the courthouse for the latest hearing. And a warning, some of the images you're about to see are difficult to watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a hearing that sounded like a trial. Georgia prosecutors summed up their case against three white men accused of killing a 25-year-old black man running through their neighborhood.

JESSE EVANS, COBB COUNTY CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: On February, the 23rd of 2020, victim Ahmaud Arbery was chased, hunted down, and ultimately executed at the hands of these men.

SAVIDGE: The three defendants, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, and William "Roddy" Bryan Jr. appeared via video link from the county jail.

The McMichaels initially told authorities they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect. The prosecution says Arbery had done nothing wrong.

[04:35:00]

EVANS: The fact of the matter is that there's no evidence that these defendants saw a burglary, saw any crime, had any subjective belief, or even a hunch by these civilians that would authorize their choices that they made to chase after and ultimately gun down this unarmed victim in the middle of the street.

SAVIDGE: In fact, Arbery was out jogging the day he died. Friends say it's what he loved to do. Prosecutors detailed the events leading up to Arbery's death, saying all three men, using two pick-up trucks, became a neighborhood hunting party, blocking and re-directing Arbery as he tried to flee, before they finally cornered him. One of the suspects captured Arbery's final moments on cellphone video.

(GUNSHOTS)

SAVIDGE: On the witness stand, the lead investigator in the case said 34-year-old Travis McMichael admitted to the first officers on the scene he deliberately shot Arbery three times with a shotgun. Then, agent Richard Dial shocked the courtroom, recounting what alleged coconspirator William Bryan says Travis McMichael said next.

RICHARD DIAL, GBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: 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 the statement, (BEEP).

SAVIDGE (on camera): Defensive attorney for Travis McMichael maintained he never said that racial slur and overall, the defense attorneys say, all three men were only trying to have a conversation with Ahmaud Arbery that day when they were trying to stop him, even though two of the men were armed. They maintain it all went wrong when Ahmaud Arbery turned on them, and Travis McMichael had to fire in self-defense. The prosecution says that is not what happened.

And lastly, I'll point out that horrific alleged racial slur that Travis McMichael made may not be used against him at a trial, because Georgia is one of only a handful of states that does not have a state hate crimes law. Now, that could change by the end of this month, but even if it does, it would not apply to the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's death.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Glenn County, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Ahmaud Arbery's mother said she was devastated to hear the testimony about her son's last moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WANDA COOPER, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: At this point I'm really speechless because -- it's -- I mean it's hard to know that he had to go through that. After he had to ran -- he actually ran for his life. And when he couldn't run anymore. He had to fight and after he fought, he was killed. Very hard to know that he endured that. I'm hoping that the death of my son and also of Mr. Floyd that did this will implement change. We need change. So no other African-American will lose their life in such a manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And the Arbery family lawyer says the Department of Justice has opened a hate crime investigation.

When we come back here, Iran releases an American Navy veteran but what was the price for his freedom.

Also ahead -- a massive soil spill inside the arctic circle. Russian officials only knew it happened days later and via social media.

[04:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: A U.S. Navy veteran detained for more than a year in Iran has been set free. Michael White traveled to Iran in 2018. He says he was visiting his girlfriend but was arrested, sentenced to 13 years in prison for insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information online. CNN's Sam Kiley tracking the story for us. He joins us live from Abu Dhabi. So, Sam, what are the details here? This sort of seemed to come out of the blue.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was the result, we understand, of some back-channel talks facilitated through the Swiss embassy which represents American interests in Tehran, of course, and has done so for years since there's no diplomatic relationship between the two countries. But there is now perhaps a faint whiff, if you like, of diplomatic activity because as a result of the release of Michael White, the former U.S. Navy veteran.

Majid Taheri who is an Iranian American scientist who was charged in the United States for sanctions busting allegedly on behalf of the Tehran government is also heading home. News of the swap greeted by the Iranian foreign minister, with some joy on Twitter. And that was met with a similar response in some ways from Donald Trump who shows -- he said that this shows that a deal is possible. Now what he means by that coming from the Trump administration is that a policy of what they call maximum pressure on Iran, U.S. sanctions very tightly squeezing that economy making it almost impossible for any other nation that trades in U.S. dollars to do business with Iran. And of course very heavy military sanctions, of course, imposed on that country have occasionally resulted in near some war experiences in this region.

But at the same time Donald Trump has always been saying, we want to talk, we want to talk. A similar attitude being struck from the other side. We want to talk but we won't do it when we're being bullied, has been the attitude of the Iranians. So with the two sides capable of talking over the release of two men, there is a slight glimmer of hope here, John. But we've seen this in the past where the two countries have exchanged prisoners but it hasn't really led to any other significant breakthroughs -- John.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, on these charges, insulting the supreme leader and posting private information online, just specifically what does that pertain to?

KILEY: It's very hard to tell. On the posting of private information online, it would appear from the court original prosecution that he posted a picture of himself and the woman he's described as his Iranian girlfriend. He is married to an American. They're still married. He's returning we understand to his wife back in the United States. But this was a relationship he established online and had visited her several times in the past.

On the matter of insulting the supreme leader or the president, it's a bit unclear. A number of most Middle Eastern nations have this sort of legislation. Even here in the United Arab Emirates you can be charged with libel for insulting people online, for example. So there are areas but it's a gray area, indeed, of law and a very long sentence for what would appear to have been a pretty minor breech in the first place.

VAUSE: Yes, I was trying to look at exactly what it was that he was accused of doing and I couldn't track it down. So I appreciate that. Sam, thank you. Sam Kiley in Abu Dhabi.

[04:45:00]

Well German media have identified the new suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance as Christian B. The 43-year-old is already imprisoned on unrelated charges. Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from her family's vacation apartment in Portugal in 2007. German prosecutors say they assume she's dead. U.K. police though are still treating this as a missing person's case. British police want information about two vehicles linked to this new suspect at the time of McCann's disappearance. An early 1983 VW camper van and a 1993 Jaguar.

State of emergency has been declared in Russia's far north, after a major oil spill. Investigators say 20,000 tons of fuel leaked into the arctic river. An investigation is underway to try to figure out just how it all happened. Russia's president is demanding answers. He also wants to know why local officials only found out about the spill from social media two days after it happened. The cleanup is underway. Environmentalists say the river will take decades to recover.

Well for more on this, CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is live in London. Yes, the curious thing here, why didn't they know about it earlier? Two days in social media?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, was pretty angry about that. He went on national television and sort of castigated the local governor. Saying, you know, we're going to hear about national emergencies now from social media? From Twitter and Facebook or whatever the Russian version was that first revealed that. And so, Putin is very angry.

But I think it says a lot about the kind of country Russia has become under Vladimir Putin or perhaps has been for a long time before that. Where people are reluctant to tell their superiors about things that go wrong because they're worried about the consequences of that for them and those around them. It didn't get to Vladimir Putin until several days after it actually happened. At which point he called a national emergency to deploy resources into the area to try and tackle catastrophe. And so, yes, that's something that I think this disaster, the release of 20,000 tons of diesel fuel into that location in the arctic circle near Norilsk, which is a city -- an already polluted city a very polluted in northern Russia. I think that's one of the things that's revealed about, about the country

VAUSE: Again, it says a lot about the current infrastructure if nothing else. Also, what are we looking at here. I mean, they're saying decades for this river to recover. But what about the immediate cleanup? How long are they looking at for that?

CHANCE: Well, the immediate cleanup is ongoing. They're already obviously, resources there, they've got people there, specialists in cleaning up this kind of mess. They've deployed equipment there, like booms to sort of prevent the diesel fuel from getting any further than it's already gone. But you know, the truth is, this is going to have a massive impact for many years to come on the local wildlife, on the fish life, particularly immediately on the bird life as well, the flora and fauna in general around that area. There's going to be, according to environmentalists, very severely impacted.

One of the problems, of course, is the remote location of this place. There aren't any roads there. And so, it's very difficult to get any kind of workmen in there, any kind of equipment in there. It has to be flown in or it has to be transported in by all-terrain vehicles. And so, the very remote location of this place has made it even more difficult to tackle what is a major environmental catastrophe there.

Matthew, good to see you. Thank you. CNN's Matthew Chance reporting from London.

Well you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Just ahead -- street artists around the world are honoring George Floyd. We'll go from Manchester, England to Idlib, Syria to show you their creations.

[04:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Street artists around the world are honoring George Floyd in their own unique and colorful way. In the U.K. and artists painted the face of Floyd and used a concrete structure on a traffic island in Manchester. And in war-torn Syria the mural on the house of ruins in Idlib shows Floyd's face with the words, I can't breathe. He said that multiple times before he died. The artist says this is a message of worldwide solidarity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AZIZ ASMAR, SYRIAN ARTIST (through translator): After witnessing the increased racism against black people in America, and because it is our duty to stand with all humanitarian causes around the world. He painted today on a wall destroyed by Assad planes in Idlib, a mural of George. He was choked under the foot of a policeman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Floyd's hometown of Houston, Texas, a tribute on the side of a food market blocks away from Floyd's former high school. The artist painted it with his mother. Says each part has meaning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"DONKEYBOY" ALEX ROMAN, ARTIST: He had a beautiful soul, you know what I mean. He means a lot to us, to Houston and to and to Third Ward. And the halo says still breathing in our hearts. And I put him directly under that light because I want it had to shine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: In France, a memorial in Nantes where the message R.I.P. George Floyd in words that translate to let us breathe. And in Kenya the image of Floyd's face on the side of the building in the Kibera slum in Nairobi is painted by the Kenyan artist Allan Mwangi, or Mr Detail Seven.

Many of the top civil rights leaders turned out on Thursday for a memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Reverend Al Sharpton pleaded with those in power to get their knee off our neck. Then there was a moving speech by Floyd's family attorney, Benjamin Crump. When we fight for justice for all of the George Floyd's of America is a struggle for the country soul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: When we fight for the George Floyd's of the world but more importantly when we fight for the unknown George Floyd's of the world. When we fight for the Trayvon Martins of the world, when we fight for the Terence Crutcher's of the world. When we fight for the Michael Browns of the world.

[04:55:00]

When we fight for the Alton Sterlings of the world. When we fight with the Philando Castiles of the world. When we fight for the Jamar Clarks of the world. When we fight for the Eric Garners of the world. When we fight for the Sandra Blands of the world. When we fight for the Ahmaud Arberys of the world. When we fight for the Breonna Taylors of the world. When we fight for the Natasha McKinneys of the world. When we fight for the Stephon Clarks of the world. When we fight for the least of these, what we're really doing is helping America come live up to its creed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "EARLY START" is up next. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Get your knee off our necks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: While Minneapolis paid tribute to George Floyd, three former officers charged in his death previewed their defense. We'll lay out the strategy.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Disturbing acts of violence by law enforcement in several cities caught on video during a night of peaceful protests.

ROMANS: And after months benched by coronavirus, the NBA is on the verge of tipping off. We'll tell you when and how. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is "EARLY START." I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Friday, June 5th, 5 a.m. here in New York.

And as friends and family said good-bye to George Floyd, three former Minneapolis police officers charged in his death appeared in court pointing a finger at the fourth. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng already mounting a vigorous defense. Illustrating in part --

[05:00:00]