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Protests Underway Across The U.S. For 12th Day; Crowds Swell In D.C. In What Could Be Biggest Day Of Protests Yet; Jon Batiste Leads Musicians On March Through Manhattan; Two Buffalo Police Offices Plead Not Guilty To Assaulting 75-Year-Old Protester Shoved To Ground; Memorial Service For George Floyd In North Carolina. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 6, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday. you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you very much for joining is.
And for the 12th day in a row, in cities big and small, in communities from coast to coast, we are taking their pain, their frustration, their desperation and their hope for a better future. They are taking that to the streets of America.
This is Washington. Officials there bracing for what may be the biggest crowd they've seen yet. Part of the demonstrations being held today in honor of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died after a police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes.
Other protests also under way in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, outrage growing after President Trump declared Friday new economic numbers and the nationwide protests against racism had made it a great day for George Floyd.
But today, George Floyd's family gathered together in grief, having to say good-bye to him during a memorial service for him in North Carolina.
I want to take you right now to the nation's capital, which has seen some of the largest protests in the country over the last 12 days. Local officials there say they believe today could have the biggest crowds yet.
And I want to bring in Boris Sanchez who is on the ground there. Boris, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Chanting, a sea of people walking down Constitutional Avenue. This is Freedom Fighters D.C., an organization that was formed just nine days ago with a single tweet.
They started out close to the U.S. Capitol building, they're walking down Constitutional Avenue. This is actually the same path that the president takes when he is inaugurated, but instead of pomp and circumstance and limousines, what we're seeing anger and passion from these demonstrators.
Actually with me now, here, name is Olivia, she told me that she has been to a lot of these protests and that you're tired of coming to these, but does this feel like a different moment in this country, one where progress can actually be made?
OLIVIA BUTLER, DEMONSTRATOR: It does, and specifically because of the coronavirus and everybody being trapped in their house, now, there is so much more energy for people to come out who otherwise wouldn't have been involved and wouldn't have felt the need to get out.
And, honestly, while I've been marching and have been protesting for the past decade and I'm like why are you just now getting out? On the other hand, if everybody gets up, I'm for it. If it causes people to listen, I am for it. We are appreciative about everybody and anyone out here. And it's just good. It's good vibes out here. It's peaceful, which is good.
Obviously, I'm not into any of the looting or any of the rioting or anything like that. But as long as our voices are getting heard, I'm thankful.
SANCHEZ: You mentioned the amount of people that are out here, the diversity is also something that caught my eye. There is young, there is old. We walked past a young child a few moments ago, all manner of people out here. What message from your perspective does that send to the black community that so many people, so many diverse people are behind this Black Lives Matters movement?
BUTLER: Personally, I am conflicted. Because of what I mentioned before about there being a lot of pent up energy in people because we've been stuck in the house, quarantined for so long. On the other hand, seeing this amount of support is amazing. It means maybe people are really ready for change. But I am a little bit hesitant about that. Because when things do change, it does impact all groups, so it is going to be interesting to see what happens.
I'm very thankful that all these support is out here from young people to old people, all different races. And I think it's great that they're out here now, but I am a little skeptical about if it's authentic, this is not something that's going to be solved with marches or it's something that's going to be solved with a month-long of marches.
It's something that's going to have to be solved through legislation, through new precedents being set in our legal system, and then social change, so people's mindsets changing so that we don't keep fostering the sense of racial -- like just underlying racial bias in the country.
So it's not something that can be solved with a couple marches. Yes, I'm appreciative for everybody being here, but we have to remember that this is not a fight that is only in these streets while we're marching.
SANCHEZ: Well, Olivia, thank you so much for the time. Let's do that. Keep social distancing. I appreciate it. We appreciate your perspective.
Ana, one final note. As we've been walking here, the law enforcement presence, the footprint much smaller than in recent days. We passed a half dozen police officers. I did see roughly seven or eight National Guards standing by a large military vehicle at one intersection.
They're clearly blocking traffic so these protesters can make their way.
They are heading now to the African-American History Museum. We're going to hear speakers there. They're going to make their way around the White House.
I don't know if you heard a moment ago, but they have a very clear message for President Trump. Ana?
CABRERA: What was that message? Because when you were doing the interview, I personally couldn't hear what they were chanting. So tell us for those at home who may not have heard it clearly either.
SANCHEZ: I think I'd get in pretty serious trouble. I don't think my mom would be happy with me if I told you what they were saying to President Trump, Ana.
CABRERA: Got you loud and clear. Okay, Boris Sanchez in Washington for us, thank you. We will check back and we know there are multiple protests happening there in Washington, D.C. So we will be talking to all our reporters on the ground.
But New York is also seeing a big march today and CNN's Bill Weir is joining us now. Bill, you've been on the move. We heard you speaking to musicians. Where are you right now?
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we're on 34th Street here in Midtown Manhattan. And the Jon Batiste second line protest has just stopped in the middle of a rain storm, which brought cheers. Let's see if we can squeeze by.
Excuse me, ma'am, can I get by over here quick? Thank you.
This crowd has come, it started in -- started in Union Square and was going to Washington Square Park, which is just a few blocks away to kind of stage there. They ended up having protester grid lock. They ran into another huge protest coming the other way, so it's improvisation right now. The New York P.D. is trying to shut down streets as these multiple protests move around.
But the volunteer second line New Orleans-style band, which has been playing everything from, We Shall Overcome to Down by the Riverside to When The Saints Come Marching In, stopping for chants. Let's listen for a second.
It sounds like that is Jon Batiste on the bullhorn, the band leader of Stephen Colbert's Late Show. And usually a guy who is as happy and go lucky as you can imagine as the front man of that late night band. But we had a chance to talk as we marched up 6th Avenue just a few minutes ago and, man, the passion and the fire was evident. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON BATISTE, BANDLEADER, STAY HUMAN: Look at what we're doing, using music to bring people together of all races, of all genders, for black lives. If we stop acting on the side of good, then everything goes and we lose all that we have worked for and loved in the world, it's the thing that I believe in. I don't believe in trying to change people who don't want to change but I believe everyone has that love in them. So all we have to do is put it on display.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: OK. And now, we're under way. We stopped for just a moment and now it looks like the march is going again as the fat raindrops fall. It's not dampening the crowd at all. We're only about, I believe, 40 arrests in New York last night. The incidents of looting and fires we saw in the middle of last week have really dissipated.
They are saying, come back. They decided there was a premature march away from which way there were headed. It looks like we're headed this way now.
But NYPD, you know, arrests now in the dozens not the hundreds. And what has been so controversial here is this tactic of kettling it's called, like kettle, like a tea kettle, in which the police surround crowds and pin them in. And it's usually to arrest large numbers. But both the prosecutors in Brooklyn and Manhattan have said they're not going to prosecute anyone who was arrested for protesting. Looting, vandalism, that's a different story.
But it is interesting to see how NYPD is sort of evolving with this as the weeks go on, Ana.
CABRERA: -- protests and use of force. Bill Weir, we will check back with you, again, live in the streets of New York City today.
Right now, I want to bring in a powerful voice, Reverend William Barber, co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign and Author of the new book, We Are Called To Be A Movement.
And, reverend, as we continue to watch some of these live pictures, which we'll put back up, because, again, these crowds are not relenting. These protests are happening from coast to coast. As you watch that and hear their message, what have you learned? What has this past week taught you?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN: Well, we've been involved quite a long time in this kind of intersectional organizing across all races, creeds, colors, and sexuality that recognizes that there are five interlocking injustices that we have to address in this country.
Systemic racism in all forms, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare, a war economy, and this false moral narrative of religious nationalism that we've seen on display.
This lynching by those who get their power from us, we can't forget that. They did it in our name, all of these deaths, this state they have mentioned. We need in this, I'm learning, that when the police, in a racist way, abuse power of the state to kill, abuse, justice demands a federal law in addition to state jurisdiction that will ensure apprehension, investigation, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration.
But, Ana, I also think that we have to recognize and this requires a deeper analysis what we're seeing. Justice, love, and hope require that, because in this moment, we're seeing a conscience awakening. It's been there. It's been sewn. But it's been awakened because there is too much death in America and it is death that doesn't have to be. So that's why we're seeing all of this diversity.
It's the compounded deaths, it's all of the deaths of others that died at the hands of police, but it is also the pain of 700 people dying a day from poverty, and people from the denial of healthcare and dying because this government failed in addressing this pandemic, and dying from ecological devastation.
And, rally, what you hear in the deep cries, too much death. Accepting death is no longer an option because the state is supposed to protect life. The state is not supposed to kill you with a knee on your neck as a police person. The state is not supposed to take, deny healthcare, deny wages. The state is not supposed to hurt you during a pandemic but help you. And the people are saying there is too much death and we're not accepting it anymore.
CABRERA: And we are seeing crowds of people in Cleveland on our screen right there. We showed people dancing in the streets of Philadelphia, marching in Washington, singing in, you know, New York.
I want to read from a powerful op-ed you wrote about these protests, in which you say, quote, if we take time to listen to this nation's wounds, they tell us where to look for hope. The hope is in the mourning and the screams, which make us want to rush from this place. There is a sense in which right now, we must refuse to be comforted too quickly. What did you mean by that?
BARBER: Well, it's a theological principle. There is a great scripture in the Book of Jeremiah that says there is a cry going up in Rhema (ph). It's Rachel (INAUDIBLE) who is mourning and refusing to be comforted. These are not parades. These are not just happy times. These are serious times.
There is another scripture in the bible in Amos. We often hear Dr. King say, let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty spring. But before those scriptures, it says there will be a remnant that will cry in the street, wail in the street, shut down the streets, shut down the job, shut down the malls, and refuse to accept what's going on.
We must turn these mourns into public policy. That's the hope. The mourning, the protesting, the crying, the shouting, the anger, those -- that is telling us what's wrong. And now we have to turn it into public policy, yes, about the police.
But also we have to turn it into a public policy so people are not dying from poverty and dying from a lack of healthcare and dying from other realities that exist. A quarter of million of people, for instance, die from poverty and low wealth every year. And so that's why the Poor People's Campaign, a national call for moral (ph) revival, is saying, you -- we better listen to these screams, we better listen to these protests, and then turn them into public policy.
Today is the anniversary of Robert Kennedy, the anniversary of his death. He was trying to tell us back then we have to hear the pain. A few weeks before now, Martin Luther King said we have to address racism and militarism and poverty. We did not listen, Ana, but we better listen this time. That is what all this diversity is saying to us in the street. This is not a parade. It's a powerful moment with possibility for transformation if we hear the mourns and the tears of the people.
CABRERA: And a very somber moment we're looking at live in North Carolina, a memorial service for George Floyd, the second of three that will happen within a six-day span. He was born in North Carolina and I know you live there. If you could say something to the family right now, what would it be?
BARBER: Well, I am in North Carolina. I'm not there today because I have an immune deficiency in the midst of COVID. But what I will say to the family is that when George said, I can't breathe, it touched something in all of us.
That -- watch how much of our government and state is used to suffocate and crush. But I would say to the family, they may have stomped the life out of George but they have not stomped the life out of us. When he breathed his last breath, it was breathed into us.
There is a resurrection of power and spirit and we are not going to rest with injustice in America whether the police or any other matter. George's breath will continue through us. We have decided because we watched George breathe his last breath, that with every breath we have left throughout this country, we are going to fight for love and justice, in the street, in the Congress, in the state house and at the ballot box.
We will help justice breathe. We will help keep the protection under the law breathe. We will help the great promises of our Constitution breathe. And we will never stop in his memory and the memory of all those who died in the wrong way and should get their lives. CABRERA: And may we all lift up his memory today. You can see they are certainly celebrating his life there in North Carolina at this hour. Reverend William Barber, thank you very much for your words and for sharing your thoughts with us today.
BARBER: Thank you so much. And www.june2020, if you're listening, you could go there for the -- a mass moral (ph) assembly coming up in two weeks. God bless you.
CABRERA: Okay, you too. Thank you, Reverend.
And let's just head to break listening in to the sounds from this memorial service in North Carolina.
CABRERA: I want to take you back to Washington, huge, huge crowds and day 12 of the protest following the death of George Floyd and CNN's Athena Jones is at Lafayette Park near the White House. Athena, what are you hearing and seeing there?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. As you mentioned, there are several protests going on across D.C. Thousands of people coming out in support of this movement. We are outside Lafayette Park. What you can see behind me, and my photographer, Frank, can show you is fenced off, protected by the high chain-link fence. People have been gathering out here for hours and hours.
Just a few minutes ago, a few got on their -- several got on their knees and chanted, I can't breathe. There have been all ages, all races here. What is important here is that people aren't just here to get justice for George Floyd. They are not just here to push for concrete change, political change, police reform, they are also here to get justice for and to honor the lives of several other people, many other people who have died at the hands of police or vigilantes.
On that fence behind me that blocks us off from the White House is a poster showing the names and faces of a dozen or more people who have been killed at the hands of police or vigilantes, from Trayvon Martin to George Floyd to Ahmaud Arbery.
And that's why we have here Kimberly Walker. She's a social worker for justice. You are here partly because of the trauma that people feel when they remember the loss of all these black lives. Talk to me about that, why you are here, why you have a sign that says, don't de- escalate, don't murder (ph)?
KIMBERLY WALKER, SOCIAL WORKERS 4 JUSTICE: Right. So I am here today because we noticed the first couple nights that we were out here that a lot of protesters were highly emotional, they were getting triggered, there was a lack of coping mechanisms. And we realized there was a need for us as social workers and clinicians to also be here on the grounds. We noticed that a lot of us are not exactly knowledgeable of who is the enemy and who is necessarily on our side. So we wanted to be out here to intervene and just say, hey, let's come to this side, let me tell you a few things, let's get you back grounded, let's practice some deep breathing, let's get you some water, let's get you some snacks and let's kind of talk about what it is that you're going through.
And, basically, that's just why we're here. We're here to kind of keep things from escalating, from them getting locked up and people getting into fights and people getting hurt.
JONES: Of course. And you are also here passing out free water, free food. But tell me why you have hope at this moment, to see these people out, to see the diversity you're seeing out here, why you have hope that this might be a time for real change?
WALKER: Definitely because we see it every day. And what we do, we -- just now, we just had a woman come over here and she was highly upset talking about why nobody cares about black women veterans and in the midst of everything going on we pulled her to the side and got her information. And, instantly, she was instantly calmed down from a ten to a zero.
So we want to be able to do that for people to let them know this is why we're here. We're here to fight the good fight and that we're here, the resources here, and we're willing to give them to you pro bono.
JONES: Thank you so much. That's just an example of the groups that are out here as a part of this protest, which is planning to go march on up 16th Street in a little while. Ana?
CABRERA: That's beautiful to hear how they are taking care of each other. And, wow, you can certainly see as your photographer there was so kind to give us a look around. I mean, it is people as far as the eye can see. Athena Jones, thank you. We look forward to checking back.
And now, joining us is the former D.C. Police Chief and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey. Back in 2014, President Obama tapped him to lead a task force on 21st century policing. And also with us is former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow and Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley.
So, Commissioner, let me begin with you, because there has been a tremendous amount of law enforcement presence in D.C. this week. The mayor of D.C. has been angry about the thousands of National Guard troops that have flooded the capital even though she didn't ask for them. She wants them out. We know the president had personnel called in from TSA, from Customs and Border Protections, from the Bureau of Prisons, just name a few. So who is in charge right now?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, at the White House, the Secret Service is in charge of the White House.
The U.S. park police when you're talking about Lafayette Park or Lafayette Square, not the city police, although they can assist in I time they are needed. It's unusual to have all the additional resources brought in. There are a lot of police agencies operating in the district to begin with and we've had a lot of large protests and we've never had to go to that extreme. Although during IMF World Bank protests in the early 2000s, we did bring in the National Guard to be on standby.
But, aside from that we've pretty much been able to handle it without having to bring or fly people literally from other places. So this is unusual, probably, in my opinion, more than what's necessary.
CABRERA: Another level of security that is unprecedented, Jonathan, is something we just heard mentioned by Athena, and that is that perimeter around the White House right now, those eight-foot fences surrounding the complex, stretching all the way down the street from Pennsylvania Avenue to Constitution Avenue. What does that suggest to you as a former Secret Service person from a security standpoint?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Listen, the Secret Service is looking at the threat environment that they potentially may face and putting forth the appropriate level of mitigation. The methodology of the Secret Service is to work in concentric rings of protection out from the White House.
Now, typically, we don't see this type of fortification. These fences are utilized during the inauguration and at other times, but the leadership has determined based upon their protective intelligence and the situation that's developing on the ground, these are very dynamic issues that they're facing. You can quickly go from peaceful protests to civil unrest very quickly. We have seen that.
So they need to take that appropriate measure right now to, you know, push the perimeter out of the -- from the White House to provide that protection.
CABRERA: The people will not be deterred. And, Doug, on just a philosophical level, what is the significance of seeing the White House fortified in this way, in an unprecedented way? It wasn't even this fortified after 9/11. This was supposed to be the people's house.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I agree. It is supposed to be the people's house. Lafayette Park is meant for protests, Washington Mall is meant for protests, Pennsylvania Avenue. These have, by and large, been peaceful protests. So the notion that, you know, the president has to like build a moat and pyramid around him is being overdrawn, in my view, by the Trump administration.
Look, the protests are a way for people to express themselves. These are First Amendment protests going around across the country. Most cities, the police have been doing a good job of trying to apprehend looters or people that are damaging property. But the bulk of this is American people fed up. And part of that is Donald Trump's record of callousness towards African-Americans, Native Americans, people of color, women. He has been insult-in-chief president, constantly putting people down.
So he is part of the story, Donald Trump, in a negative way. It's his tone and tenor that has been so destructive to the fabric of our country now. And we're seeing gleefully more and more people pulling together and saying they've had enough of that kind of shoddy presidential leadership.
CABRERA: And a big piece of these protests has to do with accountability, specifically of law enforcement. We saw Commissioner Ramsey called this week to defund the police. That's become a sort of rallying cry at some of the protests happening nationwide. What's the impact?
RAMSEY: Well, that is easy to say, not so easy to do. And so, you know, you can call for it but how are you going to make it happen? I don't disagree that we need more social workers. We need more healthcare professionals, mental health teachers, counselors, and the like. But how are you going to actually go about implementing that? And if you defund police, what is it that you are willing to sacrifice that police are currently doing that you no longer want them to do?
So I would hope, even though this is a time and we are in a period of crisis that there's thoughtful discussion before any kind of action is taken. And right now, I'm hearing too much extreme rhetoric, in my opinion, but that's not to say that there can't be something done in terms of directing funds to areas in which it is desperately needed, not just the police but in other areas of government as well.
CABRERA: And let me follow up with you about what can be done. Because you wrote an op-ed this week and you say the problem is not that we lack a playbook for fixing the police. We have one. The problem is that we have not successfully followed the one we have.
As I mentioned, you were involved in this task force created after President Obama was taking action after the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
RAMSEY: I had the honor of co-chairing that playbook.
A very first pillar we had six areas we focused on. We didn't have much time. We chose six areas but the first is the most important and that is the most important and that is building trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve.
It is an unfortunate reality and it is not new. It is historical. That in challenge communities, particularly communities of color, there's been this back and forth and this tension between police and the citizens. Not all but most.
And so we have to find a way to build trust because we can't be effective at our job if people don't trust us, if they don't want to Cooperate, they don't want to talk to us.
That, to me, is something that is absolutely essential if we're going to be successful.
We covered a lot of different areas, but if I had to choose one, that would be the one that, in my mind, is the most important.
CABRERA: Charles Ramsey, Jonathan Wackrow and Doug Brinkley, as always I could ask so many more questions and I appreciate your areas of expertise and sharing it with us today. Thanks for being here.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
CABRERA: We are tracking these protests in different parts of the country today. All are demanding justice for George Floyd.
Meanwhile, family and friends are remembering him at this memorial service right now. This is a live look in Raeford, North Carolina, at that service.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.
CABRERA: Right now, in Los Angeles, thousands have gathered across the city to protest against racial injustice.
And CNN's Paul Vercammen is on the campus of USC where crowds are growing.
Paul, describe what you are seeing.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a rather heady discussion about race, about police brutality. You can see people have gathered here. They're on the University of Southern California.
Sign, "Latino for black lives." Then you come over here, we are having a variety of speakers and people engaged in dialogue.
The police sort of guided the protesters down the streets. They were riding their bicycles.
All of this was put together by one person.
Kabwasa, come on in here.
Kabwasa's name stems from his family roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
You must be heartened to see so many people who showed up to engage in dialogue today.
KABWASA, LOS ANGELES PROTEST ORGANIZER: Yes, it's amazing. I could never have anticipated it being this big. It just shows how many people care and how many people are, you know, fed up with the racism in this country today. So it means a lot to see this many people.
VERCAMMEN: You have an interesting perspective. You grew up in Watsonville, California, a farming city about 50,000. I think it is 0.04 percent black population.
How would that define you and what would you want people to know about your experience and how they could be more sensitive to things you encountered as a youth?
KABWASA: Definitely growing up, because I was one of the few black people constantly in my middle school and high school, a lot of stereotypes I was met with constantly. You know, people using the "N" word that weren't black, things like that.
People -- I was constantly told because I didn't act the way they saw black people on TV shows and stuff. They would say I am not a real black guy or, you know, I don't act like a real black person.
I just feel like I would want to tell those people that you should recognize that these are stereotypes and that no image of black people is going to represent what every black person is and who they are.
And so when I came here and met black people, like more black people, I was a little nervous because I felt like maybe I didn't fit in. But now I know we stand together and this kind of shows that all my brothers and sisters here. Yes.
VERCAMMEN: Refresh us. Your degree again?
KABWASA: I just graduated with a bachelor's in visual anthropology and a minor in communication and design.
VERCAMMEN: We want to thank you so much for taking time out. Best of luck to you.
Kabwasa, the organizer of this demonstration. He got out in front and spoke to university police and they told him, in turn, we are not going to show up in any riot gear or anything like that.
And, so far, we have seen what we said has been a rather sort of intelligent, high-minded protest with a lot of these people here offering their opinions and absolutely no violence or confrontation.
Back to you now -- Ana?
CABRERA: Hopefully, people are listening to those stories like we just heard from Kabwasa. That was powerful. And just goes to show we can all use a little more compassion and understanding to be able to try to walk in people's shoes.
I know that is what some of the protests today are about in fighting back against the message of racism and police brutality that has been so prominent in this country.
Paul Vercammen, thank you.
I want to take us all to break with another look at the memorial service held today for George Floyd in North Carolina. This is a private service for the family following a public viewing but they did allow our cameras inside. This is the state where George Floyd was born.
UNIDENTIFIED PASTOR: And wipe away all tears. We pray in Jesus' name. God help this family to remember him. Oh, the former days. Oh, God let them remember the smiles and the laughter, the words of encouragement and, God, the times they stood together as brothers and sisters. And in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
CABRERA: In Buffalo, New York, today, this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Those cheers greeting two suspended police officers released hours ago on their own recognizance without bail after pleading not guilty to assault.
The charges stem from this incident that you probably have seen by now captured on video. This was at Thursday's protest in Buffalo. Those officers shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground cracking his head open.
CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us from Buffalo.
Vanessa, what is the reaction there and what are you learning about the officers involved?
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. We know the two officers, as you mentioned, pleaded not guilty to second- degree assault charges this morning. They were released and did not have to post bail.
As you showed that video, earlier this morning, hundreds of law enforcement, a lot of members from the police union, were there to support the two officers. They cheered once the two officers said that they would be pleading guilty during the arraignment.
But just behind me is where everything happened with those two police officers were seen on camera pushing the elderly man, 75 years old. He fell to the ground just behind me. The district attorney has said that he was going to charge these
officers yesterday but decided not to because he didn't want to fuel tension between protesters and police.
He also said he believes the police department needs to be retrained. This is what he said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN J. FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You don't take a baton and shove it, along with the officer next to him using his right hand and shoving him and knock him down and crack his head on -- crack a skull on the concrete. That is what you don't do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YURKEVICH: And right behind me is where Martin Gugino was pushed down.
You see now that there are some protesters behind me. They are very peaceful. Just over here you see a couple more, Ana.
Today, we're expecting some small groups of protests. We've seen some throughout the city here in Buffalo. But, of course, the curfew is in effect here at 8:00 p.m. -- Ana?
CABRERA: Vanessa, how is the man who hit his head doing?
YURKEVICH: The district attorney put out a statement earlier today and said that the man, Martin Gugino, was in critical condition. But we do know he has been alert because he spoke to Governor Cuomo just yesterday. The family saying he is alert.
They put out a statement saying that this gentleman is someone who has engaged in protests before. And I think for him and his family, it was a shocking incident caught on camera where he was pushed down to the ground. And now he remains in the hospital -- Ana?
CABRERA: Such a disturbing video, that's for sure. We send him the very best and hope, pray for a quick recovery.
Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you for your reporting.
As protesters march around the country, George Floyd's family and friends are remembering his life. Let's listen in to this live memorial service in Raeford, North Carolina.
CABRERA: I want to take you back to North Carolina. Let's just listen in to that memorial service being held today for George Floyd. (SINGING)
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being here.