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Protests Underway Across The U.S. For 12th Straight Day; Protesters Rally For Justice In Name Of George Floyd; NFL Commissioner Says He Was "Wrong" About Player Protests. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 6, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Alex, I'll start with you because you are at Lafayette Park, really close to the White House obviously, what's it like there right now?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, and we've been saying, you know, the reason people come here is because of the White House, because they want to see the from the man in the White House and many of the people out here want to see the man in the White House change.

When you look at this scene, it feels very much like a protest, of course. You hear the chants. You see the signs. You hear the frustration, the anger, the energy from the people.

But it also does have a bit of a celebratory mood. It has a bit of a mood of a party. There is music. There's dancing. There has been singing over the course of the past few days that is not just to -- because when people come together, they are happy, but also because there as sense of accomplishment to some extent.

Awareness has been raised. Energy is gathering. Momentum is gathering. But there is of course so much to do, these protesters tell us. And I was speaking with someone earlier who was saying that yes, a lot is left to be accomplished and we have many demands, but it is important to recognize what has been accomplished over the past week in terms of raising that awareness.

One of the more important conversations I think I've had today, Ana, was with a young girl and I asked why it was so important for her to come out today. Here is what she had to say?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NALONI MFUME, DEMONSTRATOR: I felt the need to come out because my life matters. Police are walking free with, like they are doing bad things and they are not getting any -- we're not getting any justice.

Like stepping on somebody's neck and then they are going to walk free and they just get paid leave like that's not okay. We need changes.

MARQUARDT: So when you see this many people out here today, what do you want to happen after a big march like this? MFUME: After a big march like this, I feel that we still need to

march, we still need to care even though we already showed our support. We need to keep on pushing until actual change is done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Still need to keep marching and that's what we've been hearing from so many different people. They intend to keep this momentum, this movement, these protests going.

There has been so much discussion about, you know, violent protest -- violent versus peaceful protest. It is so important to emphasize, Ana, how peaceful this protest is today, how large it is, how peaceful it really has been throughout this week.

That is why, just on the other side of that large fence that was erected earlier this week on the edge of Lafayette Park, there is no law enforcement that we can see just on the other side of that. That is completely different from earlier in the week when they were lined up right there.

Now, I am told by our colleagues at the White House that there is a significant amount of fortification from Secret Service inside the White House compound, but out here, things are peaceful and the city expects them to remain so and that is reflective of the fact that there is no curfew tonight -- Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, and they are just going to keep on going, just like that girl said. I love that message. It reminds me of that old quote that I am not even sure where it came from, but it is a proverb or something, but it's that, if first you don't succeed, try, try again and they are just the epitome right now of that perseverance.

Thank you, Alex Marquardt. Let's go to Dupont Circle. That's Suzanne Malveaux's location right now. It's about a mile and a half, I am told from that White House location. Suzanne, what's happening there where you are?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, really not in my 30 years of journalism experience have I really seen or experienced what I have seen and experienced today.

When you see the thousands and thousands of people who have gathered, it feels like a beginning. It feels like something new that is happening here. We are at Dupont Circle and it is the closest thing, the purest thing to perhaps the Town Square, the public square where people are literally being asked to go before the microphone, to go before the megaphone and to talk about their experiences. Specifically, black and brown protesters.

And so what you have and what you see here is a listening session. You have one African-American man who came up and he said this is the most American thing he has ever seen.

We had another gentlemen who came up and invited everybody to get -- or gave his address and he said look, you treat me with dignity and we will be square.

There was another person who came, a trans-Latina who had the crowd cheering "Black Trans Lives Matter." This is something that is very new for a lot of people here who have been participating.

We have seen white protesters and black protesters together. They say white silence equals violence. People said this is the first time they have said black lives matter, that they have cheered it, that they have worn it on their shirts.

We have traveled from the Lincoln Memorial, we have gone to the White House up to 16th Street that was renamed the Black Lives Matter Plaza.

At this time, it is felt like a festival, complete with a D.J. and chalk drawings, honoring George Floyd.

[18:05:10]

MALVEAUX: The people handing out bottles of water and snacks. But at the end of the day, Ana, this feels like something that is new. There are no big names here. There are no celebrities. They are just people talking and listening -- Ana.

CABRERA: I think we all can do a lot more listening. We all have so much to learn and this is so wonderful to see people really making that effort. Thank you so much, Suzanne.

Let's go to Athena who is also in D.C. and I understand that you know, you are at Meridian Hill Park, which again is about another mile and a half or so from the White House, so it gives our viewers a sense, those of us who don't know D.C. real well, just how spread out, how broad and how many people are taking part in multiple protests there in that city alone today.

What's it like where you are?

ATHENA JONES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana, that's right. We're talking about thousands protesting across the city and at many points, you are seeing protesters coming down one street converging with another group and coming down another.

And so this group started as you mentioned in Meridian Hill Park, also called Malcolm X Park. That's about three or four blocks out. We're still about 15 blocks from the White House. I have Tom Jeric, our photojournalist show you the crowd.

It's a festive atmosphere. Some folks have begun doing the Cuban shuffle. There have been chants of black lives matter, I can't breathe, no justice, no peace. And what you've been hearing from Alex since he has been on is what we have been hearing from a lot of folks we have been talking to as well.

I spoke to a middle aged black man from this area who was wearing a sign that said, "I am a Man." Now those familiar with the Civil Rights Movement of the fifties and sixties will remember that sign. It was important in the Civil Rights Movement then. His own father wore that same sign, "I am a Man" to protest back in

1968. This man told me that he feels like this time is different. Why? Because the same thing we've been hearing from others. Because of the diversity of the crowd.

I've talked to white people, black people. Young, old. Entire families talking about the importance of being out, not only to support this movement, to support their white, their black and brown brothers and sisters, they are black, to support the movement, to push for change, to push for political change.

And as you heard from Alex, there is a lot talking about Trump. They are heading to the White House and hoping that one of the changes comes along is a change in the White House, as well as things like police reform. Back to you, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, and Athena, I am just looking at these images. It is fun to see these people dancing. There is such an energy there. That energy is palpable. Thank you very much Athena Jones, Suzanne Malveaux and Alex Marquardt. I appreciate all of you out there reporting for us.

Let me take you to Atlanta now. There, the 8:00 p.m. curfew has always been lifted. I think we mentioned in D.C., there is no curfew tonight and more and more people are taking to the streets.

CNN's Martin Savidge is there in Atlanta for us and it looks like you guys have taken to the streets. Where are you headed?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have. We're on the move and if we continue in this direction, we'll reach the King's Center, which includes the grave site of Dr. Martin Luther King. We began moving away from CNN Center about 20 minutes ago and on Auburn Avenue and no one really knew where they were going, but everyone decided they wanted to go.

I am talking to Dantel Ruiz who is with me. She is an attorney in Atlanta and we were saying, this is your first day down here?

DANTEL RUIZ, ATTORNEY, ATLANTA: It is. It is. It was a little difficult getting out during the week with work and the curfew, but I was ready today and so glad to be out here protesting because black lives matter.

SAVIDGE: So many people I have talked to today, by the way, are saying this is the first time they have come down. The protests have been going on for nine days. So, why do you think it is still growing?

RUIZ: People are listening. We're finally getting attention -- worldwide attention. Every single state has had a protest and I think it is like 21 different countries, if I'm remembering right.

So people are listening and when people are listening, you make your voice louder so that we can actually get some real change.

SAVIDGE: You are a criminal defense attorney? RUIZ: Yes.

SAVIDGE: So, you know well the problems in society and police that have been brought to the forefront now. Do you think there really is change coming?

RUIZ: I think there is. I think that we've seen great examples coming out of Minnesota already with I believe the University of Minnesota, if I'm right there, they have decided to cancel their contract for extra security with the police department. Their school system has decided to remove the Minneapolis Police from the school system.

I think we're already seeing that. And I think that that trend will continue.

SAVIDGE: Well, it is great to talk to you.

RUIZ: Great talking to you as well. And enjoy your protest, and again, black lives matter.

SAVIDGE: Thank you. And as you can tell, Ana, completely different vibe than what we had last weekend. The police are here but keeping a distance, in many cases, they are just making sure that the roadways are clear for people to continue to pass by.

[18:10:05]

SAVIDGE: It is really hard to put into words why it has changed, but there is a true sense that people are witnessing something extraordinary. They want to be here for it, as well as participate in it -- Ana.

CABRERA: They want to be part of it. They want to be part of the change. That's what makes this so meaningful right now, to see so many people, this cross-section of America all coming together. Martin Savidge, thank you.

Let me go to Los Angeles now as we make our way around the United States and all of these protests, thousands of people who are taking to the streets, we understand in Los Angeles alone, there are at least thirty separate protests.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is at one of them right now. Paul, you have been talking to people at a protest at USC and now, you, too are also walking with protesters. What are you hearing? What are you heading?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can show you where we're heading. Look right up there, we're right by the Beverly Center. So, the protesters who were at Pan Pacific Park decided to go on a walk and we are not seeing any police stopping this protest.

You will note that this is very close to where we were last Saturday, and listen to the support, people honking horns. We saw people at a vet's clinic, a veterinarian's clinic in their scrubs come out and cheer. We've seen so many you have support for these protesters among the

people in this part of Los Angeles, it has been astounding, and a lot of protesters want to hear their voice -- they want to have their voice heard.

Let's look at this sign right here, it says, "2020 woke us up, now go vote." That has been a common theme here in Los Angeles. Don't just protest, go and vote for the candidates you think will support your cause, for the candidates you think will end racism in the Police Department.

And I want to go to Jerson, if I can find him, right through here. Jerson is a legal resident. He is a green card holder. Keep walking, we're good. We have this photographer with me. I've got to give him a shout out, all of our photographers, Chris Todd at the camera during this deal.

Jerson, you want to become a citizen. Talk to us about what you were saying, how important it is for you to get out there and get people to vote.

JERSON LOPES, DEMONSTRATOR: Yes, I am from Brazil, and in our country, we have the same problems. And as I'm here with my green card, I'm becoming a citizen. So I can vote here, too.

VERCAMMEN: And how does it feel to be part of this protest and have people honk for you? Cheer for you?

LOPES: It is part of history, and I believe it is a normal thing that everybody has to do, it is a normal thing that everybody should do.

VERCAMMEN: We appreciate your taking time out. Well, you have a bit of flavor of that, Ana. Jerson joining in this from Brazil, who wants to become a citizen. He is fired up, and right now, as we look down the street, this again is not too far from where we had some violent clashes last week.

All we are hearing is the honking of horns and we haven't had any problems whatsoever here in this part of Los Angeles. I'll toss it back to you now -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. There is a sense of unity there. Obviously, last week, it was one side against the other and today it is everybody together lifting up their voices in this message.

Paul Vercammen, thank you for your reporting as always.

We are covering these protests all evening long here on CNN. This is another live look at the nation's capital and we'll be right back. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:33]

CABRERA: Welcome back. We continue our breaking news coverage on this busy Saturday as protesters turn out across the country in a show of force against police brutality and racial injustice.

And CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins us from Brooklyn. Evan, set the scene for us there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Ana. Greetings from Flatbush Avenue where I'm marching with a second group of protester here in Brooklyn. They began at the Barclays Center, home of the New York Nets basketball team, that behind me marching towards the Brooklyn Bridge again.

The last time we talked, I was with a group of protesters. They were marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is another group that began at the Barclays Center and are also going across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Another peaceful protest, another fairly sizable protest. Just more of this protesting going on as we get to the second week of these citywide demonstrations -- Ana.

CABRERA: And Evan, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just introduced a Police Reform Bill yesterday. What does that involve?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his press conference this morning that he wants New York State to be the progressive leader on police reform.

He wants to make this state the one that other states follow when they try to reform their own police forces.

So, today he debuted, or actually yesterday -- last week, he debuted a number of reforms, including, you know, independent investigations of police misconduct being done by outside the jurisdiction where they happened, banning choke holds. Things like that.

Things that have -- he thinks will resonate with these demonstrators and create a pattern where New York State can be one that other states look to as they are trying to figure out what to do legislatively after this massive, massive protest movement that has changed the conversation about policing in the country.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Evan McMorris-Santoro on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. Thank you. Much more on the nationwide protests still to come right here on the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:24:03]

CABRERA: And here we are again in Washington, D.C. where you can see people in the streets as far as the eye can see in this overhead view.

We know there are multiple protests happening in that city at this hour with thousands of people turning out, lifting up their voices, protesting against police brutality and against racism, demanding justice and equality in this country.

Now let's head to New York in another protest under way at this hour. We checked in with Evan McMorris-Santoro in just the last block, he was in Brooklyn.

Our Bill Weir is in Lower Manhattan. Bill, you have been following along with protests there. Within this group today, fill us in on what's happening there? It looks like -- is this a confrontation or some kind of face-off with police?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Ana. Yes. We've rebased now. We're down in Lower Manhattan near Canal Street, right? That's the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge and there are protesters here squared off with a unit of NYPD.

This is definitely a much more tense setting than we've seen all day.

[18:25:08]

WEIR: The marches through Washington Square Park with John Baptiste and the musicians, it was very light. People were singing Whitney Houston songs and police, the NYPD were dancing alongside as they passed.

This is much more intense. There are gentlemen heckling the officers there. You can see the one officer, if you lean -- okay, towards the back, if you see -- the guys in the white shirts are the commanders.

Overnight four commanders were reassigned as punishment for their actions during the early George Floyd protest. You might have seen viral video of one pushing a woman down in the street violently. Another dropping a man's mask and pepper spraying him in the face.

Those four officers still on the force, but being reprimanded by being reassigned now.

Also, news has come out as Governor Cuomo is recalling, actually re- amplifying his call for police reform, called the Say Their Name Reform Agenda in which he is proposing allowing for better transparency, releasing the disciplinary records of officers right now that is locked away.

Banning choke holds from law enforcement officers. Making a false 911 race based call for emergency a crime and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the death of unarmed civilians.

So, the pressure is reaching the Statehouse in Albany to call for reform after Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo spent much of the last week defending the restraint of the NYPD. But their response through the week has sort of evolved.

Early on, they were using what's -- oh look, they are backing away. Much to the cheers of the crowd and this is a small group of protesters. There is only a couple dozen here. But apparently they got the word that it is not worth the sort of blinking contest -- loud cries of "quit your job" as those officers walk away.

This is such a different feel than I saw most of the day following the protests around the city as we get closer to the 8:00 curfew it will be interesting to see how many of the thousands who took to the streets on this beautiful Saturday will stay, break that curfew and how different commanders in different parts of the city might respond.

CABRERA: Bill, it was such an interesting moment you just showed us there as the police really just turned and walked away after seeing --

WEIR: Let's follow these officers.

CABRERA: Do we know why they decided to turn around? Was there an order or a command given by one of the police officers in that crowd? Or were you able to hear anything specifically.

WEIR: I wasn't able to ascertain who gave the command. But yes, there's a bunch of officers staged in various locations. If you pan to the right over here, this is the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, which goes over to Brooklyn, which has been the scene of a lot of protests.

Now, you can see, there's a commander in the white shirt organizing his men and women. These particular officers do have batons and helmets. We haven't seen a lot of that throughout the day. They were really letting protesters move wherever they want and were accommodating them by closing off streets.

And now, it looks like really what they are trying to prevent is a protest taking over the Manhattan Bridge.

CABRERA: Okay, so of course, the question is then, Bill, where does this go from here, right?

WEIR: Absolutely. Yes. It is such a different, you know, scene as we've seen after dark. But there is other news today, Ana that I should mention.

John Miller who is one of the spokesmen for the NYPD, a long time terrorism expert. He told some of our colleagues today that it was an Intelligence failure. The looting that we saw last week in past days was an Intelligence failure by the NYPD. That they missed a small band of criminals that was going take advantage of the protest to loot those stores in SOHO, on 5th Avenue, busting out windows of major chains, as we saw so much of that disturbing video.

He really fell on his sword today and said that's on me. We were watching Facebook chatter. We were dynamiting trying to figure who was going to do the most harm and we missed it somehow.

So that is a pretty stunning admission today from the NYPD.

CABRERA: Everybody has room to learn and grow. Bill, we will keep an eye on your pictures and we will come back to you if there is news to break.

Thank you for that reporting.

Let me turn to our police experts here because most of the protests we've been seeing so far have been peaceful, joyful even today, which is obviously a very different picture from what we saw this time last weekend.

[18:30:10]

And with us right now is former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and former President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cedric Alexander. You both were on air with me live last week when we saw images of looting, and police cars burning and police using batons. It was such a different tone and scene on the streets not just in New York but across the country.

Cedric, we just watched live on our air the image of protesters going face-to-face with the police and police not breaking out the batons and pushing them back like we saw last weekend, but instead turning in unison and walking away. What does that moment tell you? What went through your mind?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, first of all, I think we need to be clear, that is not a sign of weakness whatsoever. It is a sign of them taking more measured approach. And as these protests continue each and every night, I think we're all beginning to see much more peaceful protests.

So curfews are raised in some cities and here in New York. I think the commander there made a decision that it was best to move his men and women away, because what you want to do is be able to choose your conflicts much more intelligently and based on the experience that certainly that they have gained over the last 11 to 12 days. So that was a good call on their part because it certainly does hold down the escalation.

But I'm sure and I'm confident that if they need to respond, they will but I thought that was a very smart move on behalf of that commander.

CABRERA: Ed, I'd like to get your thoughts too.

ED DAVIS, FORMER COMMISSIONER, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, Ana, I agree completely with Cedric. This is called de-escalation and it's something we didn't even consider prior to the mid 1990s. But during the Clinton years, we trained a lot of police officers around the country on community policing and de-escalating the tension is a big part of that.

Before that, we were charged to - we were charged with sort of moving forward no matter what and in this particular instance, you can see this de-escalation and you can see what a tactical retreat means. It's not giving up it's not a failure or surrender. It's simply is this worth it and that those kinds of decisions are being made really well by the NYPD right now.

CABRERA: Cedric, as Bill was just reporting, the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo introduced this new criminal justice reform bill, specifically, the police reform bill and the four cornerstones are transparency of prior records of police, no chokeholds, classifying false, race based 911 reports as hate crimes and he wants the Attorney General to act as an independent prosecutor for police murderers. What are your thoughts on this bill? Did he get it right?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think one thing that is very important, we know that reform is certainly coming and it's going to be very interesting to see what that looked like. I think Governor Cuomo with his vision, and his ability to assess his own state, in terms of what he think is necessary is certainly his call.

But it's certainly going to take a lot of conversation with a lot of different people to make sure that in this reform process and what packages that are presented, that it is done in a way that's going to be fair to everyone that's involved. But the community is clearly asking for more transparency and we will see what that looks like in the time to come, in the days and weeks and months to come.

And when it comes to outside investigations, particularly with the officer involved shooting, that is very critical oftentimes and I've been saying that for the last number of years. In fact, that was one of the regrets commendations that was made in the 21st century task force report.

And anytime you have an officer involved shooting where there's a death, it should be independently investigated. Because there again, it gives a community a sense of transparency and fairness. And I think it's fair to the officers that are involved and the community that's involved.

CABRERA: And as we look at these pictures, it is notable that none of these officers are wearing masks and I am just thinking like we're in the middle still of a major pandemic. So that is striking to me when we talk about public safety that they aren't wearing masks. We understand perhaps some masks are being passed out. We'll continue to look at these pictures and see what's going on here.

When you talk about reform, Ed, let me ask you about this because the the different things we just listed in terms of measures that the governor's wanting to take, yes, they increase transparency. Yes, maybe they prevent violence and perhaps save lives by saying no chokeholds. Let's hope that that makes a huge difference.

[18:35:00]

But it doesn't get to the root of some of the problem which we've been talking about and which a lot of these protests are about and that's the systemic racism too that is abundant in our society, but it's also in law enforcement, which is also what is fueling some of the action, right? So how do you transform a department and that piece to read out the racism?

DAVIS: Well, Ana, it's true that there is a problem in police, just as there is in every other segment of society. We're still recruiting from the human race. But what I'm seeing is that the unions and the police membership have to get involved in this. I just did a an op-ed in The Boston Globe with Frank Hartman from the Kennedy School, calling on the unions to step up and to police their own.

These officers with 18 complaints like we saw that are up in Minneapolis have no place on the police department and they endanger the well being of the good officers out there who are trying to do the right thing. So the police can play a major role in this. It's not all outside supervision to solve this.

CABRERA: What do you think about that, Cedric, because you talk about some of these reforms and transparency, but what would it take to actually break systemic racism within law enforcement agencies?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think Ed is absolutely right. It certainly is going to take a concerted effort on part of the unions. It's going to take a concerted effort on the part of the elected officials and the chiefs of those organizations. And there are policies that can be put in place, those policies are going to be reviewed here again, in the weeks to come.

Because Ed is right, we're recruiting from a larger population, the human race. So in that you're going to sometime attract all types of personalities and people with variety backgrounds. But policies you have in place, the expectations that is set from the top and accountability is going to be huge in terms of reducing and negating any potential racist attitudes that may exist in that organization.

CABRERA: Cedric Alexander and Ed Davis, thank you for the conversation.

DAVIS: Thanks, Ana.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: Much appreciated. We'll have much more still to come as protesters call for justice, police reform and equality in the name of black Americans killed at the hands of police like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And these are live images now of the ongoing protests in Washington, D.C.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:43]

CABRERA: As we continue to see thousands gather in protest of racial injustice and inequality, the NFL did something it rarely if ever does, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologizing and admitting he was wrong for not listening to players earlier on matters of racial injustice and peaceful protest.

Now, despite Goodell's apology, many were quick to point out something Goodell didn't say, the name of Colin Kaepernick, former 49ers quarterback who faced backlash from the league after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

And joining us now is former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth. And Donte, first your reaction when you heard the apology from Goodell.

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL WIDE RECEIVER: I thought it was a good first step. I think, obviously, a lot of people have the feeling that the NFL does not support the players because they continue to fail to mention Colin Kaepernick's name and the fact that a lot of the owners still to this day support Donald Trump, support him financially, support him politically.

I think a lot of the players are fed up and especially they feel like that since the President has attacked players, calling them sons of bitches when he when he speaks very highly of people who were marching in Charlottesville that we see were screaming Jews will not replace us and marching with tiki torches, which is what people in Berlin did the day that Hitler became the chancellor.

So that imagery is not lost on the players and I think they are pissed off. And you saw the video that they posted. It was done by or coordinated by Michael Thomas, wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. And it had pretty much all the young stars, African-American stars of the NFL, and the NFL is three-quarters black.

So they know that they have power they can wield and I think they're starting to realize that, because they demanded that the commissioner come out and express certain things and he did that immediately. So the players have much more power than they realize and I think they're starting to realize it and we'll probably see much more of this to come in the future.

CABRERA: And in fact, Goodell says he's going to reach out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family, that's his words. What changes would you want to see in the NFL?

STALLWORTH: I think initially there's a lack of diversity when you're speaking about head coaches and front office management positions, particularly general managers. There's, I believe, only one minority owner, Mr. Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So there needs to be a little more diversity in the ownership of the NFL. There needs to be much more diversity in the upper management, the senior levels of each NFL organization. And hopefully with the players pushing for this, the NFL will finally start to listen and not only have the nice words, but also follow that with concrete actions.

CABRERA: I want to ask you about the controversy sparked by Drew Brees' initial comments this week saying kneeling during the national anthem was disrespectful, comments he later apologized for and has since you know doubled down on that apology.

[18:44:59]

But here's an example of someone who has had so many black athletes as teammates and friends, so many opportunities to learn about different experiences and perspectives and yet there's a lack of understanding about their plight. What does that tell you?

STALLWORTH: I think one of the things that tells me is that it's a perfect encapsulation of what's been happening in this country to where Drew Brees came out and he stuck with this - he'd had this position for since the beginning, so that was surprising. But like you said what's surprising was that he failed to listen to

his teammates, he failed to listen to the rest of his NFL family when they had spoken out over and over again on the exact reasons why players were kneeling. And I think, even in the midst of the Colin Kaepernick backlash, with him not being able to resume his NFL career, and then subsequently the President of the United States and the language that he uses towards players saying maybe they shouldn't be in the country.

Even in the midst of that, I think that he still didn't get it. But unfortunately, it took for severe backlash and I think now hopefully he'll start to try to educate himself and listen to a lot of what his teammates have been saying for the longest time, not just his teammates, but guys around the league. Guys around the league and other sports players I respected, LeBron James.

And I do think that Drew will take this head on. You saw him respond to the President and obviously he kind of had to do that. But I expect him to take these measures head on, because that is something that he understands he'd to do, especially playing - being the quarterback of the City of New Orleans.

CABRERA: Yes. Yes.

STALLWORTH: Where black population is pretty heavy there.

CABRERA: I mean, we keep hearing from people who I've had on my air as guests. It's not just black people who can help this movement breakthrough, it has to be white people too and I think about these sports leaders. How important is it for sports leaders to really lead in a broader sense right now, not just Drew Brees, not just LeBron James, not just Colin Kaepernick and others who have made their names.

But given American sports across these cultural and ideological lines, it seems like there would be a huge opportunity there to help create a broader understanding.

STALLWORTH: For far too long people have looked at the issue of police brutality as a political issue, as a liberal versus conservative left wing versus right wing conversation. And that's not at all what this is about. This is a human rights issue.

And the rest of the world understands that, because we've seen marches in dozens of countries around the globe from Tokyo to Oslo. Oslo, I have a friend of a friend in Oslo who told me that they had the biggest demonstration in the history of their country in front of the parliament just yesterday and a thousand people went and gathered in front of the U.S. embassy to protest.

So this is happening all over the world and people are understanding this is not a political issue. This is not an ideological issue. This is a human rights issue. And when you understand it on that level, then the humanity of seeing someone like George Floyd pretty much essentially lynched, modern day lynching, tortured to death for eight minutes, not being able to breathe, that really struck the hearts of not just people in Minneapolis, not just people from coast to coast in this country, but around the globe.

And no one wants to be on the wrong side of history, so I think drew is starting to begin to understand that now. And I hope that not just him, but other sports athletes will continue to speak out because this is one of the major issues of our time and, again, it's a human rights issue, it's not about politics.

CABRERA: Yes. Donte Stallworth, thank you very much. I appreciate the thoughtful conversation and great to have you with us. We'll be right back.

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CABRERA: Welcome back and thank you so much for spending part of your Saturday with me. Before I hand you over to our Wolf Blitzer, I want to leave you with this.

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