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Police Tactics Face Scrutiny As Demonstrators Demand Justice; Police Under Fire For Excessive Force And Lack Of Accountability; New York Braces For Protesters Demanding Justice; Soon, Memorial Service For George Floyd In North Carolina; Peaceful Protesters Gather In London Demanding Change; Traveling Pianist Shares Message Of Hope Through Music; Dr. Uche Blackstock Of Advancing Health Equity Discusses University Of Alabama Football Players Testing Positive, Health Disparities. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 6, 2020 - 13:00   ET



JOHN FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Now, again, there may be some who say that you know that I'm choosing sides here by arresting and prosecuting these police officers. And I say that's ridiculous. I'm not choosing sides.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go straight to CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich with the very latest. Vanessa?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. Well, those two officers have been charged with second degree assault. They pleaded not guilty. They were released on their own recognizance and they did not have to post bail. This was a different scene. It's quiet now outside the district attorney's office but earlier there were hundreds of law enforcement here present to support the two officers during the arraignment.

And after the arraignment, after those two officers entered a plea of not guilty there were cheers here in the crowd about a couple hundred law enforcement personnel who we're very much in support of these two officers. Now also in support of the officers, 57 members of the emergency response team, the team that those two officers were a part of, they resigned yesterday evening from their positions.

And that is one of the reasons that the district attorney said that he did not bring charges against these officers sooner. Here's what he said just a little bit earlier.


FLYNN: I found out that the entire emergency response team in the Buffalo Police Department had quit and they weren't going to come last night to protect the City of Buffalo. And so, if I -- if I would have done this last night, I may have been fanning the fire here, OK? I may have been -- I didn't want to pour gasoline on a fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YURKEVICH: And those 57 officers quit in protest because those two officers seeing pushing, Martin Gugino had originally been suspended without pay. Now protests last night, Fredricka, were peaceful. Many people walking around the city in protest of racial discrimination and police brutality. Tonight, we are expecting more protests here in Buffalo. But organizers are calling on those protesters to remain peaceful.

Of course, there is a curfew in effect here in Buffalo. Curfew is at 8:00 p.m. And we know that the incident with Martin Gugino happened after that curfew. So organizers here really encouraging protesters to please be peaceful and also abide by that 8pm curfew this evening, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And what kind of condition is Martin Guardino in?

YURKEVICH: Yes. Well the family released a statement last night saying that he was alert. He was talking. We know that he spoke to Governor Cuomo yesterday. He is still in serious but stable condition. They're expecting him to make a full recovery. But he is still in the hospital, Fredricka, recovering from that incident where we saw him lying on the ground, his head bleeding as those officers walked past him, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much. Onto our nation's capital now where demonstrators are gathering this hour on the now 12th day of protests across the country. And we have a team of correspondents covering this for us, Boris Sanchez is at the Dirksen Senate Building. Let's get to Suzanne Malveaux who's at the Lincoln Memorial. Suzanne, what's happening? It looks like you're on the move now actually.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we are on the move and a lot of people actually don't know where we're headed to, where they're going. The general consensus is that it could be the White House, of course, Lafayette Park, but it's just a real kind of organic protest that is happening here at the Lincoln Memorial, and thousands of people, it was very impassioned and you get a sense that there are not a lot of leaders in terms of the movement itself but really just young people who are trying to express themselves.

Who want to express themselves, who took to the megaphone to the bullhorn and just started talking to one another? At one point it was singing the black national anthem, lift every voice and sing at another point, it was kind of a call and answer response to the black lives lost at the hands of police. There was a very moving, touching moment of a young man, a teacher who I met and he went before the crowd.

He said he was really nervous and really afraid for what he was going to say. And it's the kinds of things that he says to his friends really about being black and being scared and being frustrated and angry. And he addressed the crowd and he was really excited the fact that they weren't laughing at him, he said, but that they were cheering him on and hugging him and that was the kind of thing that was just remarkable to him. [13:05:12]

MALVEAUX: And so you've got all of these moments that are unfolding really in a way that feels like there is no plan, like it is just happening naturally. And as people are feeling these emotions and talking to one another, and so we are yes, on the move, Fred, and you can see the crowd. What is amazing is that, yes, there is a police presence. There's the National Guard, there is law enforcement out here, but you cannot feel it.

There is no sense of any kind of enforcement, police presence here because they have really taken such a step back and just allow the crowd to express themselves as they would like to. As they need to and it has been completely peaceful without incident. And Fred, mostly with a lot of crying, a lot of tears and emotion. And I think that's probably the best way to put it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I think people generally feel very full emotion. We showed a live picture of you, Suzanne, while you were walking to and you could see the yellow paint, you know, yellow paint the Black Lives Matter, paint on the street that the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, you know, advocated and I wonder, you know, if that also helps set a tone of uniformity there as people are marching so peacefully and so emotionally. Suzanne, thanks so much.

I'm going to go to our colleague Boris Sanchez at another D.C. location where the protesters are gathering at the Dirksen Senate Building there. And so, you know, Boris, is there kind of a tone that you think, you know, is resonating and is there any correlation, you know, behind the Mayor and her efforts to make a statement by having that Black Lives Matter painted in yellow on the street, a very location where many of the protesters were moved by law enforcement?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, yes. Just outside Lafayette Square at that intersection that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza. I spent the entire week there, Fred and yesterday after that mural was painted on the ground, and the new Plaza was dedicated by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, you really got the sense that it turned into a block party. They had music and refreshments for people were earlier in the week.

They were much more disorganized protests, and you saw some very serious clashes between law enforcement and the protesters that were there. I can tell you that across D.C. more broadly, there is an expanded law enforcement presence. In fact, several areas have been closed off to traffic, very little traffic being allowed downtown. We saw a number of large military vehicles blocking certain intersections are actually not far from that Dirksen Senate Building that you mentioned, where there is a group of protesters that set together.

The freedom fighters are set to meet up at 2:00 o'clock. One of the things that you heard Suzanne mentioned that I think is going to be a recurring theme throughout the day is just that there are so many different groups that are protesting throughout D.C. today that it's hard to keep track when law enforcement officer earlier joked with me about that. I want to show you what's going on just outside the Capitol.

There have been waves of people that have been walking through here. You see Capitol Police closing off a pedestrian walkway that is typically accessible to the public. Already here there was a pretty sizable group, a march for freedom. They had speeches, signs, several chants, they eventually started marching down the mall headed to that direction where Suzanne was just a few moments ago at the Lincoln Memorial.

I can tell you that the freedom fighters, they're also going to be marching throughout the Capitol. So it's many different groups going through the nation's capital making their voices heard. And clearly a sign that so far things have been peaceful. Hopefully they will continue that way throughout the night, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez and Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much from the nation's capital there. Capital building, always such a beautiful structure there right in the center of things.

All right, New York. It's also preparing for another round of protests. CNN's Bill Weir is there for us. Bill, what is the situation? It looks like you've got a very sizable crowd where you are.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's building, Fred. It's -- it just started here. And this one has a very different feel because this is deliberately a musical protest. Somewhere in that throng of tuba players and trumpeters and guitar players is John Batiste, the bandleader of Stephen Colbert's late night show, New Orleans musical prodigy. And he comes from a tradition of the second line, a funeral in New Orleans becomes a celebration as people marched down the street, dancing behind the band.

And he wanted to do similar gesture here today. So he put out the call for musicians and then showed up.


WEIR: We're at Union Square, this is 14th Street. A symbol of the Union victory in the Civil War, which takes on poignant meaning and dates like this. But right now, a very festive. I mean, this has been such a rollercoaster of human emotions the last two weeks here so much rage, fear loving resentment. But today, it's almost as if it's a parade of celebration in some ways of the spirit of community and those sorts of things.

Now, where it goes from here is anybody's guess. The number of looting incidents have been going down the last couple days. But at the same time, NYPD is still incorporating these crowd control methods called peddling, which is they surround a group, lock them in and then it goes back to Northern Ireland. They've been doing it for decades. But usually the object of that is to arrest as many people as possible.

But both the prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn have said they're not going to prosecute protesters. So it remains to be seen whether NYPD will follow that lead. But right now, we're in one place here. But the plan is for this second line protest to march to Washington Square Park, down in Greenwich Village. And there are a number of other protests throughout the day from Central Park to Brooklyn and we'll be here for you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. You know, some striking similarities and differences to the protests that's taking place in Washington. So as I was just telling us about, you know, lift every voice and sing, the black national anthem that was played and then right at that moment there, John Batiste is actually playing that along with his other musicians that are accompanying him. All right. Thanks so much, Bill Weir.

All right. These protests that are taking place are not just happening in the large cities. They are also taking place in small towns across the US. CNN's Tom Foreman has more.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are raising a ruckus on the quiet streets of Biloxi, Mississippi, a couple dozen protesters with handmade signs crying out for change.

GWENDOLYN BRADLEY, PROTESTER: I have lived with racism our whole lives coming from a very small town. And it's just -- it's got to stop.

FOREMAN: They are battling for rights in Boise, Idaho. They are taking a stand in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


FOREMAN: Indeed, beyond the roar of the big city protests, which have drawn enough people to be towns of their own, the map is steadily filling in with smaller communities making themselves heard coast to coast, come what may.

In Huntsville, Alabama, tear gas flew after police say some people refuse to leave when their protest was done. To be sure, they did not leave their passions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want grandchildren brought into this. If that means I never have a grandkid, I'm OK with that.

FOREMAN: The sentiment was the same across the state in Auburn and in Tuscaloosa.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that it sends a message that police need to stop racism.

PASTOR HOLLIS THOMAS, PROTESTER: You cannot leave here today and be quiet about what has happened to black and brown people across this country.

FOREMAN: In Brockton, Massachusetts, where more than 40 percent of the population is black, the call went up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All lives can't matter until black lives matter. You understand that?

FOREMAN: But it happened in Missoula, Montana, too, which is more than 90 percent white.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I'm very emotional about this, because you can see everyone's standing together in Montana, in Missoula.

FOREMAN: And on it goes, from Georgia, to Maine, to Nebraska, to Texas, to Michigan. Sure, they know the big cities will get most of the attention, but smaller towns on this issue at this moment are having their say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing the injustice happen over and over again, I have been watching it since I was a kid. At some point, it just kind of gets hard. And it's time to finally speak up and do something.


WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Tom Foreman for that report. Next, as protests continue across the country, new videos capturing excessive police force, all of it emerging can anything be done to stop this disturbing trend? And we're live at a memorial for George Floyd as demonstrators chant for justice in his name, a live report coming up.



WHITFIELD: All right, more questions today about police officer training after several incidents caught on video show alleged excessive use of force. CNN Correspondent Ryan Young takes a look at the most recent cases across the country that are now being reexamined.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Police tactics across the country are now under a microscope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your knee on my man's neck, man, on his neck.

YOUNG: This video from Sarasota, Florida, shows the moment officers attempted to arrest a man during a domestic disturbance call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got you on his neck.

YOUNG: One of the officers is seen kneeling on the back of the man's neck just days before George Floyd's death.

One of the officers said in the incident report that the defendant tried to get away and that police use minor force. Kneeling on someone's neck, Sarasota police say, is not something they train their officers to do. The department has now launched an internal investigation. It's one of the several recent incidents protesters say highlight a pattern of troubling police techniques. Another example? Police in Vallejo, California shot and killed 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa while responding to a suspected looting call.

Officers say he ran toward them while reaching for what appeared to be a gun, but later confirmed it was a hammer.

SHAWNY WILLIAMS, VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA, POLICE CHIEF: The district attorney is going to look at this. And our internal affairs unit is going to look at it.


YOUNG: As calls for justice spread on the streets, a similar investigation is now under way in Tacoma, Washington.

In March, Manuel Ellis was heard saying, I Can't Breathe when he died in police custody, according to a sheriff department spokesman, the case, in the wake of Floyd's death, now getting added attention.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): It's a top priority for her and it is a top priority for me. And we will be pushing to make sure there is a full and complete investigation of that incident.

YOUNG: And in Chicago, another investigation launched looking into the actions of these officers during an aggressive arrest last weekend. The family said they had done nothing wrong. Cook County says it's conducting a thorough independent investigation of the matter, including the conduct of the police officers involved.

TNIKA TATE, WOMAN PULLED FROM CAR BY POLICE: Twelve or 14 cops that just start banging on my -- they just swarmed in and just start banging at my windows, banging at my car. They had their weapons drawn.

YOUNG: Cedric Alexander, a former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, believes the tactics, kneeling on individuals' necks, are troubling and not part of police training.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: There's no question about that. And training is so, you know, it's so important in our police organizations today. This technique is not being taught. It's just not acceptable.


WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Ryan Young. So joining me right now to discuss is K.D. Johnson, a retired police major for DeKalb County in Georgia right outside of Atlanta. Good to see you, Major.


WHITFIELD: I'm doing great. So, you know, we all want to get smarter now. And that's why we have you here that to help us have a better understanding of all that we're seeing and experiencing and what we can perhaps hope for. So, you were in the force for 30 years. You know, so help us understand. From what place in an officer sworn to protect and serve does this come from?

An officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd and three others who are complicit in restraint not intervening to help save a life. Officers, you know, who quit the riot team in Buffalo in solidarity of two officers' discipline for pushing down and injuring a 75-year-old man. I mean, how do you assess this behavior especially relative to your experience?

JOHNSON: You know, that that behavior is very disturbing. More I come from and because when we go through training, all police officers go through training and these tactics that we see today, they're not being taught in police academies, these are things that --

WHITFIELD: They knee to the -- to the neck.

JOHNSON: Yes. Those are things that are being picked up other places but my training it did not. We did not do anything like although training various I state, we have to continuously look at if it is effective when dealing with the public.

WHITFIELD: So, is there then a feeling for those officers who are using it if it hasn't been taught that they can do it, you know, with impunity? That others will look the other way or -- I mean, why does this go on?

JOHNSON: You know, we -- there's a culture that's been in policing for a long time. And one thing we used to always say, when I would go to my roll calls, I would always stress to people that work under my command, that we have to police each other and remain professional. And what you have to do as a leader in an organization, you inspect what you expect. So, when these things are happening, we have to start looking at the top of these organizations to find out if your message is being pushed down. Because obviously, there's some things that are not happening and that is deeply disturbing.

WHITFIELD: Yes. A lot of times things go right, but then it's the stuff that goes wrong and that's the stuff that we're, you know, zeroing in on. You know, and one has to wonder, I know you and I have talked and you've talked about training, how important it is. But is it also or can it also be the case that sometimes, you know, officers are so focused on giving commands, you know, demanding subjects cooperation that they lose sight that someone stopped or being questioned, may actually be nervous, you know, not know about what's next.

Maybe they're not moving quickly because they're afraid that sudden moves will be misinterpreted. You know, or perhaps a subject is confused about what's going on, why am I being stopped? And the next thing you know, the subject is told he or she is being combative. And then big -- something happens?

JOHNSON: Yes. WHITFIELD: And it's terrible outcome.

JOHNSON: You know, the thing is, police officers don't know suspicious persons from a can of paint. When they encounter these people, especially if there's somebody that has done something wrong. The loan when you talk to this person, they're thinking about how to get away. So officers just kind of step -- take a few steps ahead of the situation and demand that people do certain things.


JOHNSON: But it's a judgment call a lot of times. And, you know, a lot of times we see videos all the time where police officers are killed in the line of duty because they were either taking too long to react or something like that. So it's one of these things where the more -- the more you do it, the better you become at reading people's body language.

WHITFIELD: So among your messages or perhaps even you know, potential remedies here is that you do believe that community policing needs to make a, you know, a larger comeback where in so many jurisdictions it's gone by the wayside, you know, budgetary problems, et cetera. And you also -- should I say credit or even blame, you know, top brass that that is where the tone is set for tolerance or, you know, inspecting policing one another.

JOHNSON: We have got, you know, as law enforcement executives, you have to make sure that you are pushing down the way you want to be treated. That's the way you treat people. And when there's a program like community or in policing, you know, a lot of police officers think that you can arrest your way out of out of this problem. And that has happened for decades, looking at numbers to solve problems.

Well, today, that is just not the case. We've got to get out into the community and get people to trust us and we've got to trust them, and learn to live together. That's how we make policing work and keep everybody safe. That's what it is.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And before I let you go, I mean, a lot of us as parents are really worried. You know, we had Sesame Street Special on earlier today about how to talk to your kids about racism. I know you're a parent. And as a police officer for 30 years, you've got a teenage son, you've got a college-aged daughter, what do you say to them? What insight do you bring to them about the conversation of how young people can interact with if they're confronted with -- by police?

When you're in the company of -- I mean, what do you say to them, which may be very different from what I may say to my teenage son and what my husband, you know, talks to our teenage son about? What do you say?

WHITFIELD: You know, the first thing, the way a kid acts at home, they usually act that way in public. So we have to make sure that we monitor the behaviors in the household. Once they go out, you know, we have to teach our kids, I've talked to my son and my daughter about this, you'd be polite. When you're stopped, you keep your mouth closed. Remember, the goal is to get home safely.

And if your -- if your rights have been violated, we can file a formal complaint later. Don't get into an argument with the police. Remember that anything you say, can be held against you in a court of law. Keep your hands in plain sight. Do not make any sudden movements. Avoid physical contact with the police, no sudden movements. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Do not run. Even if you are afraid of the police.

Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest. Don't make any statements until you have spoken with your lawyer. Stay calm, remain in control. Watch your words, body language and emotions and for the public that see things, interactions that police officers are having with teams, things that you can do. You can record the situation from afar without interfering with what the officer is doing.

If you see something that's not right, call 911 and request a supervisor to respond to the scene. Take mental notes, and be willing to write a formal complaint and participate in any internal and in any criminal investigations. If we can do those things, I think, and I know that we will have some better outcomes when dealing with the police.

WHITFIELD: OK. I hope we can all have cool heads like you and delivering that message to our kids. Major K.D. Johnson, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Take care.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. All right. Still ahead. A second memorial will be held for George Floyd in his birth State of North Carolina and demonstrators are there chanting for justice in his name. We'll take you there live next.



WHITFIELD: While people around the world are protesting the death of George Floyd, others are coming together today to remember how he lived. Right now, people are gathering in North Carolina for a second memorial service for Floyd. It's expected to begin in the next few hours in Floyd's birthplace of Raeford.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is there now.

So, Dianne, demonstrators have been there even though the family said it didn't necessarily want protests or demonstrations to take place. So what are you seeing there?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, overall, Fred, this has been an incredibly peaceful and really just heavy day here in Raeford. I can tell you that there have been thousands who have come to pay their respects to George Floyd.

He was born about 20 minutes from here in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His family still lives in this area, including his sister, Bridget, who said that George was more like a father to her.


But there are also members of the public who say that his death feels so personal to them because of what they have gone through and what it has come to represent over these past almost two weeks now. And they wanted to see him in person and be there and just be able to pray, for the most part.

So, look, the sheriff's office here situated this to where people can park off site. They brought them in with shuttles. They brought people so they could stand. They could come in. Spend about five seconds in front of the casket, which is open here so people can see Mr. Floyd. And then they have to go back outside.

Part of that is due to social distancing and part of that is to keep the crowds moving. This is a small town, Raeford, fewer than 5,000 people, and the sheriff has been trying to make this as easy as possible on the family.

They did this public viewing so, at 3:00, they can have a private memorial. And that memorial is going to be very different from what you have seen in Minneapolis on Thursday and what we'll probably see in Houston. This is going to be members of the family, people who knew George before he died and pastors.

The Floyd family told the sheriff when he was helping them organize it that they wanted this to be church. They wanted to cherish the memory of George and be able to talk about him and how he lived. They said that he believed in God. He was a religious man. Spirituality and church meant a lot to him and they want that conveyed today.

There are two Congressmen from North Carolina who will be speaking but, Fred, overall, it's his stepmother who is speaking. There are relatives that are going to be singing. This is going to be a small, intimate memorial service here to celebrate the life that George Floyd lived.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dianne Gallagher, of course, from North Carolina. Then it will be Houston. He lived in Houston, as well as Minneapolis where the first memorial took place. Thank you so much.

The Black Lives Matter movement has a global voice now. Thousands take to the streets in London demanding change. We take you there live into the center of the demonstration, next.



WHITFIELD: Solidarity protests are taking place around the world today for George Floyd and against racial injustices.

Thousands protested in France this week over a 2016 police killing with parallels to what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis.

And in Ireland today, thousands demonstrated outside the U.S. embassy in Dublin.

While in London, crowds marched in solidarity through the city center.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in London.

And not even rain will deter people there in London. They're very used to it. But the numbers have been sizable. Thousands of people descending on the streets there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, thousands of people. They gathered outside of parliament at the beginning, around midday, and then mid-afternoon marched off towards the U.S. embassy. Had a protest there.

But what has happened now, you had the heavy rain there this evening. Now some of the protesters have come back into the central area of London. This is the heart of government here. This is the main buildings of White Hall.


ROBERTSON: And people are very frustrated. They want to get their message out, "Black Lives Matter." This is what the gentleman wanted us to say.


ROBERTSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. We're going to carry on.

That's the underlying message here. People are here in support of George Floyd. They want justice. They want justice for George Floyd. They want to make that message heard that Black Lives Matter. As this lady says, they want change.

The underlying message here in the U.K. while these protests have been sparked by what they've seen in the United States, people here want to get the message across very clearly that there's racism here in the U.K.

And that's the underlying reason that so many people have come out today.


ROBERTSON: What we're seeing down the street here is Downing Street, the offices of the prime minister.

So as the protests have ended elsewhere, they've converged around the heart of government, around the prime minister's office and home to try to bring that message.

I'll stand back just a little bit so you can see down the street.


WHITFIELD: All right. ROBERTSON: People here really want the message to be heard that we can

expect, we are expecting more protests tomorrow. And I think we're going to continue to see -- thank you very much. Thank you.

We're going to continue to see a lot more protests in the coming days. This -- what you're seeing here is --


ROBERTSON: -- a sense of frustration and, frankly, anger.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, the message being very consistent in close proximity as well.

Nic Robertson, there from London, thank you so much.

In Melbourne, Australia, demonstrators came out and supported the Black Lives Matter movement and to address the treatment of aboriginal people in police custody. In Sydney, tens of thousands marched in solidarity and chanted.




WHITFIELD: The demonstrations began just minutes after an Australian court decision banning protests was overturned.


Straight ahead, spreading a message of hope through music. Coming up, one man's cross-country journey to heal the community of Minneapolis.





WHITFIELD: A man in Minneapolis is bringing his message of hope through song. This musician, with piano in tow, drove 12 hours from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis to attend a memorial for George Floyd. What happened next? Beautiful music.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am from Germany and everybody is telling me how awful the pictures are. I just want to do something. Music is the perfect medium to restore peace, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't matter who it was, white, black, brown. A little girl came up and played happy birthday.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was exciting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It brings a whole different vibe to us. Yes, we're in the middle of a protest, in the middle of a riot, but music can change people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not rioters, not thugs, not looters. You see this beautiful, classic music.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just glad I had the chance to share my experience with the world, you know.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody would have imagined any of this would happen. Nobody would have imagined there would be a guy with a piano in the middle of the street.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see someone and you don't know what they have in them. You don't know what talent they possess. You don't know what type of leader they can be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone out here celebrating, everyone out here dancing, loving, whatever, and we're having fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what Minnesota is about. This is our community, our home. Rather than the damages we've seen, which regardless of how you feel about it, this is what we're about. Coming together. The music.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to hear us. Change starts with us and them. It starts with both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to meet in the middle. Got to come together as one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter what you look like. It is how you are here and how you show that to the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all saw that today, so thank you.






WHITFIELD: Several football players from the University of Alabama have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. Multiple reports claim that at least five student athletes have contracted COVID-19 as the NCAA allowed schools to welcome athletes back on campus for the first time since March.

An asymptomatic player actually took part in two group workout sessions earlier this week according to It is unclear when they became infected. The university has declined to provide more information citing privacy concerns.

Joining me to discuss this is Dr. Uche Blackstock, the founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, which aims to address health disparities in America.

Dr. Blackstock, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Let's zero in first on this University of Alabama players. How big a threat does a handful of coronavirus cases present to this University of Alabama football team? Which, you know, in completion, they could have up to 125 players. Don't know how many come out to train right now. What kind of impact could this mean?

BLACKSTOCK: There's a definite concern about the number of cases. A handful of cases could easily turn into hundreds and thousands of cases. We know that coronavirus is highly transmissible. And we also know that in Alabama over the last two weeks they've had spikes in the number of their coronavirus cases.

I assume the University of Alabama has a structure in place for testing and all of the players, contacting any close contact, and then isolating as the public health interventions dictate.

WHITFIELD: This is a contact sport, even if it is training. They are going to be in proximity to one another. Can you have reasonable measures in place to have training and make sure these players don't get sick?

BLACKSTOCK: That is such a great point. I believe already Alabama was not in a position to open up training. It's still too early. We're seeing cases rise. The metrics the government was using, we've seen a climb in cases in at least a two-week period.

I think reopening training at this point, with the number of cases that they have in Alabama, is really a serious issue, no matter what kind of infrastructure you have in place for see a decline over two period.

So this is really a serious issue no matter what kind of infrastructure you have in place for testing and isolating.

WHITFIELD: What are the worries, if you have any, about the protests and demonstrations? You see in a lot of pictures, you know, maybe half will be wearing masks but in some cases the other half is not. What do you think this will potentially do to this pandemic?

BLACKSTOCK: With the protests we're dealing with, protesters are giving voice to issues of racism, which we know are related to police violence but also the health disparities we're seeing in the pandemic. We know people are going to protest.

I signed a letter with 1300 other health care professionals in solidarity but also talking about reduction. What are the ways to reduce transmission of the virus? Because we know protesters are going to be out there, going to be in large groups, but there are ways to decrease transmission.

WHITFIELD: So you took part in a briefing held by a House committee on the coronavirus crisis just this past Thursday that focused on the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on communities of color.

How has this pandemic interview magnified racial inequities that existed in this country for years?

BLACKSTOCK: That's such a great point. We know that the black community has suffered disproportionately in terms of health disparities even prior to this pandemic, and we know those are the communities being most heavily hit.

I'm glad we have the subcommittee taking in recommendations regarding how to proceed in the short and long term. But our communities have been devastated essentially more than one in 2,000 black Americans have died from coronavirus. It is -- if black Americans had died at the same rate as white Americans we'd have 13,000 black Americans still alive.

Our communities have been devastated but it is positive to see the black subcommittee is working on recommendations to address the disparities.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Uche Blackstock, thank you so much for your time and expertise. Appreciate it.

BLACKSTOCK: Thank you for having me.



All right. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The crowds are swelling in the nation's capital. Thousands of

protesters have already started to gather in Washington, D.C., in what could turn out to be the biggest day of protests there yet.