Return to Transcripts main page
Protesters March Across America For Black Lives; New York Curfew In Place As Protesters Keep Marching; Protests Underway Across The U.S. For 12th Night; Officers Plead Not Guilty To Assault Of Elderly Protester; U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Approaches 110,000; Musicians Join Protesters, Spread Message Of Hope And Change. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 6, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: You are watching our special live coverage tonight of the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd. I am Poppy Harlow. And I am glad you are with us.
From New York to Los Angeles, a mass of humanity is voicing the minds of so many people. And what appeared to be some of the largest crowds seen yet in some cities since Floyd lost his life with hands cuffed behind his back under the knee of a police officer 12 days ago. Tens of thousands took to the streets to call for an end to police abuse and for true reform in this country. Protests are still happening despite curfews like here in New York City although multiple cities, like the nation's capital, Dallas, Los Angeles, have lifted their curfews.
At this hour, tension is rising in protests across Seattle. We're keeping a very close eye on that but overall, demonstrations across the country today and tonight have been largely peaceful and most of all, powerful, even at points downright hopeful. See these people in Atlanta dancing the slide together and they're singing "This is America."
Today, supporters also remembered Floyd and other African American men whose lives were cut far too short by police. In North Carolina, in the town where Floyd was born, supporters held a memorial for him.
In Kentucky, balloons were released for Breonna Taylor, an EMT shot eight times in her own home by police executing a warrant in search of another person.
And in the nation's capital, the words "Black Lives Matter" emblazoned on the road that leads straight to the White House. And this picture you're looking at is from space. That's how large the letters are. You can see them from space. Washington, D.C. is not under a mandatory curfew tonight, but protesters did drape a black lives matter flag on the fence that has now created the perimeter to the White House. Let's begin there with our Alex Marquardt. He joins us now. What have the protests been like tonight?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, that's why I wanted to stand right here on that street, 16th Street, where the mayor had that mural painted, saying "Black Lives Matter." This is 16th Street goes straight into the White House. And (INAUDIBLE) my cameraman is pointing up to that building up there, you can see that spotlight that says "Black Lives Matter" as well. That's also from the mayor.
The mayor has to some extent been antagonizing President Donald Trump for - and has been antagonizing him and - and going after him. They have had a bit of war of words on Twitter.
I just want to point out one more thing. What we're standing on top of right here, this paint job says, "defund the police." That was added by protesters who feel like Mayor Muriel Bowser hasn't really done enough in terms of police reform, justice reform.
I'm going to swing around here and show you the rest of the scene out here. It has been an entirely peaceful all day. People came out by the tens of thousands we estimate. This has been the biggest protest since the death of George Floyd. It has been a mix of festivities as well as protests. And people today gathering as they have throughout the course the course the past week, right here in front of the White House.
But as I mentioned, it has been a bit of a showdown between President Trump and Mayor Muriel Bowser who has demanded that the president remove federal forces who came in for law enforcement purposes as well as National Guard troops. They came in from over 10 different states, some 4,000 of them. But - and we understand that many of them will now be leaving on Monday.
Sorry, Poppy, a bit of disturbance here. This has been largely peaceful. There are obviously some people who want to get on TV. But there is no curfew tonight. That ended several days ago because there haven't been any sort of arrest. To -- for the most extent, except for a bit of a skirmish right now, the protesters have been pushing this message of Pence (ph), understanding the importance of that. Poppy?
HARLOW: OK. Alex, thank you for the reporting and for bringing us the main message there. We appreciate it.
In New York, protesters are marching through Manhattan tonight and Brooklyn.
Let's go back to Bill Weir, my colleague. He has been walking with them for hours. Look, the curfew was at 8:00 p.m., but there are - they are still out in -- in so many in force.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Poppy, no. It just ended.
HARLOW: It just ended?
WEIR: They just broke up here. It just ended. It just dispersed. And it was down to about a couple hundred. But we just had the most amazing scene just a few seconds ago, marching down the middle 34th Street. We're at 34th and 6th. It was Macy's department store right there when the inspector in charge of this unit and these officers decided, said I will march with you and at the front of the line, marched with the leader of this protest we talked to earlier.
WEIR: And everybody in the crowd was incredibly respectful. The had arms around each other at one point. Inspector of the NYPD deserves the credit for diffusing this and say, you guys can disperse peacefully if you want to. He'd been walking hard and fast for hours, miles. If you want to go home tonight, come back tomorrow, do it tomorrow. And that's what happened. And now, you can see they're opening up 34th Street again. And this was see-change.
Let's get out of the street. This is a see-change and just the energy -
WEIR: -- and the conflict between these protesters. 12 days you know -
WEIR: -- 11, 10 days ago. And tonight -- and because the whole world is watching you know. And as all of these viral videos of these brutal police, protesters clashes, draw families into the streets. It looks it has - it has affected the policy, at least the strategy on this night. A long, intense, passionate day, but peaceful. In the end, peaceful. Last night, 40 arrests. Probably less than that tonight given what we have seen.
And another bit of news I should mention. John Miller, who is the deputy commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, briefed reporters today and he said, when it came to those horrific looting incidents that we saw - come out of the street, man - you know at the beginning of the George Floyd protests when they were smashing windows, and the stores from Soho to Fifth Avenue, he said that is on me.
That was a failure of intelligence. That was a small gang and we missed the fact that they were trying to take advantage of the protests. He said that was a small gang and they missed the fact they were trying to take advantage of the protests.
A rather stunning admission on that as well as the four supervisors who were reassigned as punishment. The two officers up in Buffalo were charged with second degree assault for pushing down the 75-year-old protester. So, really interesting developments there. And of course, a lot of good cops out here trying to do their best to protect and serve. And at least they can go home tonight, you know, with bruise free, thankfully. A peaceful night has now just wrapped up. HARLOW: It's a pretty amazing thing to see. Bill, you are so right. The change from 12 days ago, even seven days ago to tonight. Thank you for bringing us that important message and what - must have been a powerful image for you to see just there. We appreciate your reporting.
Huge crowds have gathered in Los Angeles. Lucy Kafanov is there. Peaceful as well, yes?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, it has been peaceful, but it's been really powerful to watch. We're actually in this tunnel underneath the city of Los Angeles. It's loud but peaceful. Thousands of protesters marching down here, heading back to city. We have been on the move for, oh I would say about two hours now.
What's interesting though, I mentioned earlier when we spoke as we haven't really seen a visible police presence. That is slowly starting to change.
It's quite loud here.
We just walked past a very long line of police officers with batons, with tear gas, canisters, visible but not being used. Again, it feels like the atmosphere is calm, police have not provoked the protesters, the protesters have not provoked the police.
And again, through this tunnel, no police as people are marching by. These cars are out here in support of the demonstrations. Very excitable atmosphere. Our cameraman showing what's ahead. They're almost out of the tunnel but the crowd is just cheering and shouting.
It is sort of the most high energy that we have seen so far. You know when they were marching through the streets, they would stop every two blocks, take would take the knee in memory of George Floyd, we would have speakers, and so on and so forth. But it looks like the energy has shifted. There have been a lot more - a lot more energy. Poppy?
HARLOW: A lot more energy. I know it's hard to even hear in there, Lucy. We appreciate it very, very much to you and your team. Thank you from Los Angeles.
Let's turn to a veteran of policing during protest, retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey is with us. She is also the author of the important book "Black and Blue." Cheryl, it's good to have you. Thank you very much.
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Thanks for having me, Poppy.
HARLOW: Let's take a moment this Saturday night to just reflect on the past 12 days. And I think your experiences are important on doing that because you were in the LAPD during the Rodney King days. And the question on so many peoples' minds for so long is how could this not have changed? How could we be here today after seeing that? DORSEY: Well, listen. Not only seeing the Rodney King incident, but you know just mere six years ago, we saw protests in Ferguson, Missouri -
HARLOW: Oh, yes.
DORSEY: -- because of the shooting of Mike Brown and the choking death that we saw of Eric Garner that they tried to tell us wasn't really a choking. And so, in every death that has happened since June, July, August here in Los Angeles, Ezell Ford at the hands of errant police officers. So, the reason that we are here, Poppy, is because police departments have yet to have an appetite to deal with police officers who use deadly force as a first resort rather than a last resort.
And listen, it's not just me saying that. We know that Derek Chauvin had 18 personnel complaints. It is not like the department didn't know who he was. The other officer Thao, who's just (INAUDIBLE) was the subject of a civil suit that cost that city $25,000 because he knocked the teeth out of the head of a black man. So, if they don't want to do anything to deter this bad behavior, if they refuse police chiefs to get these officers out of patrol, they were going to continue to have incidents that when it makes national news, everybody is aghast.
HARLOW: Yes. You know, it's part of the reason why you are hearing gurgling calls for "defund the police." We just had DeRay Mckesson on last hour talking about that. But I want you to listen to with that in mind, this from a chief in the New York City Police Department, Jeff Maddrey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY MADDREY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I am a black man, but I love being a police officer. So, I am not resigning. I want to continue to make sure everybody is safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: When you hear that from him, what is your response?
DORSEY: Well, you know, listen. I am a proud member of the Los Angeles Police Department. And so, I think we have a role and a part to play. I think unless you know there are people like me and that captain on police departments, we can't stop errant officers like Aaron Dean who was standing outside the window of Atatiana Jefferson.
Imagine if there was someone who looked like me as his partner, when he pulled out his gun because she was sitting inside playing a video game with her nephew. Somebody who like me with some commonsense would have said, hey dude, put the gun up, what are you doing. Imagine if someone who look like me was one of those other three officers who were there, when Derek Chauvin was sitting on Floyd George's neck - George Floyd's neck for eight minutes, somebody who look like may have been inclined to say, dude, get up. What are you doing? He can't breathe.
There was a place for black police officers. And it just seems to me, Poppy, like police chiefs, mine here included, my captain, Police Chief Michael Moore, don't really have an appetite to recruit black police officers. LAPD is predominantly Hispanic now. And there's a problem with that in my mind.
HARLOW: Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, thank you so much as we look at these powerful images tonight of the protests in Los Angeles. Thank you.
The two officers in Buffalo, New York, seen in that incredibly disturbing video, shoving an elderly man to the ground as he bleeds out of his head. Well, they were in court today. We will take you there. Next.
HARLOW: In Buffalo, New York, the two police officers who were recorded forcefully shoving an elderly protester to the ground pleaded not guilty to felony assault and walked out of the courthouse to applause.
It's not clear who was cheering but what we do know is that 57 officers from the city's emergency response unit quit that team after the force suspended those two officers. The officers' names, suspended right now, are Aaron Torgalski on the left, Robert McCabe on the right. And a warning before you watch this video of what they did to this elderly man, it is just almost impossible to see.
This is what happened on Thursday. You see after Martin Gugino hit the cement, blood pulls by his head and yet police continue to move passed him. Gugino is now alert but he's in critical condition at the hospital. Buffalo's mayor has not called for the firing of the two defendants. He also said this about Gugino.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BYRON BROWN (D), BUFFALO, NY: He was asked to leave numerous times last night. He was in that area after the curfew. One of the things that happened before that incident is there were conflicts between protesters. There was a danger of fights breaking out between protesters and the police felt it was very important to clear that scene for the safety of protesters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Let's go to our Vanessa Yurkevich. She joins us tonight from Buffalo. And just to be clear, the officers that left that unit, they didn't completely quit the police force. The district attorney who ended up charging these two officers had a strong message.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. These charges came swiftly. This incident happened with Martin Gugino on Thursday evening just after curfew, right behind me on the steps or below the steps rather of city hall.
[23:20:08] Now these charges against these two officers, second degree assault. They pleaded not guilty and when they left the courthouse, there were cheers from law enforcement officials that were there to support them.
The district attorney though says after seeing that video, after seeing Mr. Martin Gugino fall to the ground after being pushed, blood coming from his head and the officers walking past, he says that he believes that the entire Buffalo Police Department needs to be retrained. This is what he said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They are not trained to shove a 75-year-old man with a baton and knock him to the ground. They are not trained to do that. Are they trained to push back? Are they trained to clear an area? Absolutely. But there's - there's - there's elements to that. There's aspects of that that are proper, OK? But when you cross the line, all right, that's when it comes out the training aspect and it comes now in my world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YURKEVICH: Now, Martin Gugino, that man, that 75-year-old man, he remains in serious but stable condition. And Poppy, there were peaceful protests out here this evening. I asked some of the protesters how they felt about these charges of these two officers. Some say that it was a step in the right direction, these charges coming so quickly. Some say it is simply not enough that these officers need to be fired. But it is well after curfew here in Buffalo. People have dispersed for the evening. And as I mentioned, protests very peaceful. There is one more night of curfew here in Buffalo. The curfew and starting again tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Poppy?
HARLOW: OK. Vanessa, thank you for reporting live in Buffalo tonight.
Let's bring back in former LAPD sergeant, Cheryl Dorsey. That video, as many times as I have seen it, is just unbelievable to me that this happened. And I wonder what your perspective is if you were in the shoes of the police commissioner in Buffalo, what you would do.
DORSEY: Listen. Buffalo has a history of foolishness. And so, you know, I get that these 57 officers were bothered and they are - they quit the unit. And I think if they really had you know some intestinal fortitude then just -- instead of just quitting the ERT, emergency response team, they should have just quit the department.
Back in 2008, a friend of mine, my sister in law enforcement, Cariol Horne, complained about a partner on the Buffalo, New York police department, Greg Kwiatkowski. Why? Because he choked somebody who was handcuffed. She reported him. He hit her in the face. She was fired. He went on to promote to lieutenant and ultimately was sentenced in 2018 to federal prison for why, violating the federal civil rights of folks.
And so, this is not anything new to Buffalo police department. That's how they get down. And again, until a police department is willing to take a firm of action, hold officers accountable, remove errant officers, those 57, if they have a mindset to push down a 75-year-old man, they need to be gone.
HARLOW: What about police unions, Sergeant, in all of these? And the role that police unions can play to aide in reform or to stifle it.
DORSEY: They are part of the problem. And listen, police unions are just lobbying arms of the police department. And they too, many of the presidents, you have heard them speak before. They have not seen the murder of a black man or woman that they cannot get excited about.
And so, what needs to happen, I think, is that politicians need to be barred from collecting ridiculous amounts of campaign donations from these unions. And so, when it's time for the communities to forth legislation and I hope that your legislators would get behind it.
And they don't because they're getting money from unions. Then maybe legislation can pass that will actually hold officers accountable. Police unions are part of the problem. They help officers hide under the cover of the police officers bill of rights and thereby don't do anything to deter that bad behavior.
HARLOW: Cherly, thank you very much for being here on all of these different aspects of the developments tonight. We appreciate it.
DORSEY: Thank you.
HARLOW: We have much more live coverage still to come. But first, you're going to want to watch this tomorrow night from my friend and colleague, Fredricka Whitfield. Her special report is ahead, "Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism." That is tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here in CNN.
And as we have watched protesters gather for 12 straight nights now, we are also seeing an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases. More on that. Next.
HARLOW: While the protests and political turmoil have intensified in the last 12 days, the coronavirus pandemic is still proving to be deadly and deadlier by the day. Nearly 110,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus as of tonight. The number of confirmed cases is approaching 2 million.
Joining me tonight, Dr. Carlos del Rio, the executive associate dean at Emery School of Medicine. Dr. Del Rio, I'm glad you're here. And many of these headlines obviously have been overshadowed because of what is going on in this country. But I just want to reflect on the number for a moment. Nearly 110,000 deaths. And where do we go from here?
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, PROFESSOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE: It is really just mind shocking number and we will continue to have unfortunately a growing number of deaths in this country. I suspect by you know by end of August or early September we will be approaching probably 150,000 to 200,000 deaths in this country from coronavirus. This is just and incredibly high number.
I would say, however, that deaths are coming down in this country. The number of deaths is decreasing. And part of it is because the people infected are younger people, healthier people, so healthier people. So, less people are getting as sick as in the past. But also, we are better prepared to take care of them.
I think hospitals have learned a lot and we are doing a better job. So, mortality is going down, but still a very high mortality.
HARLOW: For those who are protesting right now and then obviously those policing the protest. What is your message to them? We have seen some of them with masks on and a number of them without masks on. And obviously, a big part of the protest is using your voice and letting your voice be heard. But there is also an impact of that when it comes to releasing droplets and potentially spreading COVID. What's the best they can do while also raising their voice metaphorically and actually?
DEL RIO: I think - I think if you're going to go to protests and you have the right to go. You should wear masks. You should wear goggles. And you should take masks to give to other people that don't have masks. And my advice is rather than using your voice, have a sign. Use - express yourself through the written media. You know where have a big sign, have something that you can say what you want to say, but don't uncover your voice, don't shout because there is clearly a risk of doing that.
And again, what we want to do is while we let people you know express their anger, protest, but not increase the risk of infection. And if you have gone to a protest, and if there has been a lot of people without masks, what you should do is you should go ahead and get yourself tested. I think it will be really important that you find out if whether you are infected or not.
HARLOW: Do you believe - I mean, just judging by how long it takes to really appear in people and the fact that testing takes a number of days for many people to get back, I believe we have not seen yet the results of these protests in terms of whether it does result in a - in a significant increase in COVID cases, right?
DEL RIO: Yes. So, it will probably take about 5 to 14 days for us to see an increase. But again, you know, testing has wrapped up significantly in this country. We now are doing about 500,000 tests a day throughout the United States. So, there's a lot more testing capability. There's a lot more possibility they're getting tested. And I think if somebody wants to get tested, they can get tested nowadays.
HARLOW: As parents, all of us are thinking about school next year. We heard what Dr. Fauci said this week about schools, you know, elementary, primary, high schools may not be closed in the fall as a result of this. You know, what should parents be looking at right now in terms of indications, about whether or not their kids are going to go back to school because there's not going to be a vaccine by you know September.
DEL RIO: You know it's going to be - it's going to be incredibly hard, but I think it's potentially possible. I think we know that kids, even though when they get infected, they are less likely to get ill and they tend to do better. So, I think it's important that that we do prevent those kids from when they come home, to go visiting grandma or visiting grandpa and infecting those that are high risk to going with complications.
I think we need to be sure that schools (AUDIO GAP) possible. You know, classrooms, try to establish social distancing. I think there maybe you know part of the school that is done outside the classroom, that continues to be done you know distance -- distant learning. But I think you know there's a lot of school districts are looking for ways to implement all the necessary measures.
I think the problem that we have is many of the school districts are grossly underfunded to do these things. And more importantly, most schools have at most if at all, one nurse. And that's their all medical health. And I think it's going to be really important, if you think about how do we get schools to partner with you know public health departments, or schools to public health, to schools of medicine to really you know beef up their possibility of really doing this. Because by themselves, they're not going to be able to do it.
HARLOW: Not to mention the older people who work in those schools in many different capacities and the elevated risks they could be at.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, thanks very much for being with us tonight.
So, it is the 12th night of protests across the United States. This is -- you are looking at the Interstate, I-35. This is in Austin, Texas. Protesters there are blocking traffic. Our coverage continues right after this.
HARLOW: Welcome back. We are tracking the protests nationwide. Of course, this in reaction for a 12th night to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who grasped for breath. His last breath came under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
In some cities, the crowds are the largest scenes since Floyd's killing 12 days ago. For the most part, they have been peaceful all day today and all night. Right now, protesters in Los Angeles, you look at this aerial pictures. These ones are in Denver. But protesters in Los Angeles are gathering near city hall.
We are also watching Seattle closely, where police launched flash have been peaceful all day today and tonight. This is in Los Angeles. These are in Denver, but protesters in Los Angeles, and Seattle, police launched flash-bangs tonight to scatter protesters.
Across the nation, protesters urging change not just by taking to the streets, but also, by voting, by going to the ballot box. In Los Angeles, these protesters made a pledge to vote. In Georgia, reportedly, more than a million people have already voted for the primary except for Tuesday.
With voters keeping six feet from each other, the lines and the wait times to cast ballots early have been long. And in Kentucky, the protests are playing a part in the June 23rd primary there. One demonstrator, Representative Charles Booker is running to be the Democratic nominee for U.S Senate, which means that he is aiming to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Kentucky.com reports that Booker has been the only candidate to participate in the protest there. He joins me now. Thank you for taking the time this evening. I appreciate it.
CHARLES BOOKER (D), KENTUCKY STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Of course. Thank you for having me.
HARLOW: Of course. You know we have seen you protesting and joining in these calls with your action for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor. Of course, an EMT gunned down in her own home, shot eight times. It was a no-knock warrant for her. They were looking for someone else.
When you take to the streets this time, it feels different watching and seeing in my neighborhood, for example, in Brooklyn. But I wonder to you if you feel this time is actually going to be different in terms of an outcome.
BOOKER: Well, I know it is. I think you are absolutely right. This is different because it is more of a cumulative effect. We have seen so much trauma, so much pain. And the loss - the killing of Breonna Taylor was just the next incident, the next devastating blow.
And so, people are standing up, not only for her life demanding justice, before the broader notion that we need structural change. Kentucky deals with a lot of issues. We're doing generational poverty, structural racism and inequity that robbed so many people. And we're fighting back out survival. And that's what my campaign is all about.
HARLOW: I'd like to talk about something that isn't getting as much attention, but I expect it will in the days to come. You attended the vigil on Monday at the site where David McAtee was killed in the early morning hours on Monday. We have some images we can show people. And they should read more if they're not yet familiar with this. But there are so many questions about his death, shot at 18 times. He was barbecuing and serving food. What are your questions about his death that are still unanswered?
BOOKER: You are exactly right. We want to understand what exactly took place. This is a gathering. And this is a couple of blocks from my house. People regularly convene there, enjoy good food. And the barbecue man is what we call him. He took care of everybody. And if you didn't have enough money, he'd give you food to make sure you had it, including a law enforcement.
And so, to see the National Guard come in, a law enforcement come in like a militarized group ready for war with people and then it end in the death of someone that was a pillar in our community, a lot of questions are here as to why this is happening, why aren't we having accountability and why aren't we having the real change and make sure our communities aren't terrorized or faced in this type of trauma to begin with.
HARLOW: Your big push and message along with protesting side by side here is vote -- is go out and vote. And I'm not just talking about you know your primary. And I'm not just talking about June 23. I am talking about November. But I wonder how you keep the momentum up for the voting to take place en masse months from now.
BOOKER: Well, I will tell you. The people are really inspired. I think what we saw at the beginning as what many call it protests is much more like an uprising now and folks are fighting back in a bigger sense. Because they know things really do need to change. And that's why you're seeing so much moments with my campaign.
I don't come from money. I come from a poor zip code in Kentucky and we're building a grassroots campaign that has folks working from every part of a commonwealth. And we've raised over a million dollars from regular folks because they know how important this moment is. And that we can't play politics and inside that we will support a pro-Trump Democrat.
And so, people are already inspired. They just need to be listened to and told that their voice matters and they're accounted for. And that's what my campaign is really all about. And we're building the movement to win.
HARLOW: Representative - Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York back after Eric Garner died at the hands of police, introduced the bill to - for a federal ban on chokeholds and it went nowhere. He reintroduced it last year. But now, after the death of George Floyd, it's getting a lot of attention.
I spoke with him just yesterday. And he told me although it may be fast tracked, he does not yet have a Republican sponsor for that legislation. Do you believe that this is the moment when that will change, there will be bipartisan support to band chokeholds, strangleholds, federally?
BOOKER: I think it is. And I am looking at what we are seeing in Kentucky where people are standing up all over the commonwealth, even in areas where there is a very rich history of overt racism. Populations where there are over 90 percent white and they're standing in the streets saying "Black Lives Matter" and that we need real change.
I think it's becoming clear to us as a broader public that these issues are interconnected. And that structured racism hurts everybody. And so, we need to build coalitions in this moment, and I'm committed to that. HARLOW: Representative Charles Booker, thank you for staying up very late and being with us on this Saturday night from Louisville. We appreciate it.
BOOKER: Thank you.
HARLOW: Of course.
New Yorkers marched to the music earlier today. Huge crowds led by a familiar face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON BATISTE, MUSICIAN AND ACTIVIST: We are the ones who are responding to the 401 years of generational trauma and oppression that our ancestors bore. They're standing on their shoulders. We are the ones who can change a generation for women. We are the ones who can change a generation for young. We have the power right now. We are one. That's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: That is the musician Jon Batiste, will join me next.
HARLOW: You are looking at live pictures. This is out of Denver tonight. It is almost 10:00 p.m. there from our affiliate KMGH. Peaceful crowds in Denver tonight.
And may the powerful chants of no justice, no peace and black lives matter, we have also heard just hauntingly beautiful and healing music.
That is famed musician and activist john activist, Jon Batiste, is leading a push for change. And he spoke with our Bill Weir earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BATISTE: A lot of toxic ideology we learned when we - we're growing up in the world. And we have no idea sometimes that we're taking it in. There's a great unlearning that is potentially taking place right now. And if we let that happen, and we get out of the way of our ego, and out of the way of driving for power, we can have true freedom and true love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And Jon Batiste joins me now. He is also of course people will recognize you also as the bandleader for the late shows Stephen Colbert. What a moment today. I mean just seeing that all volunteer band and they're marching with you side by side with that music. And then your -- your impassioned comments to my friend and colleague Bill Weir. You talked about the great unlearning that's taking place right now. Tell me more.
BATISTE: That's right. That's right. Well, this is a real experiment, this idea of bringing together cultures in a country under democracy to co-exist as one. So, there's going to be a lot of things that we have to work out in purgatory, in that motion of working out how we're going to live together.
We made some pretty bad decisions. And those decisions now are culminating in the moment that we're living through now and have reached ahead at different points in the past but now we're at a point where people have realized almost as if we're facing a collective moral reckoning that these decision that's our ancestors have made have left us with a lot to untangle.
So, there's something about what's happening right now that can be a moment of great spiritual consciousness elevation, something that can elevate our collective consciousness and change the world and literally set the tone for the next 100 years.
HARLOW: I think George Floyd's 6-year-old daughter said it so well when she sat on the shoulders of Steven Jackson this week and said, "My daddy changed the world." He did. The question is what do we do -- what do we do now?
BATISTE: Well, I think that we have to vote and we have to protest. I think those are very clear to me that we have to vote and protest. Look, the last election for our country, I believe the turnout was not what it should be. 100 million people who were eligible to vote did not vote. Which to me speaks to a greater concern. There are race problems that we're facing but we're facing a human issue right now.
George Floyd's memory and legacy is something of a catalyst moment, a watershed moment for us to deal with a lot of our deep-rooted human as I was saying toxic ideologies that we've adopted, one of which is the suppression of people. And also, I think understanding that everyone has a voice in this country and understanding that we matter. Voting is something that speaks directly to that. So, that's something that we can all do and really make a difference by saying I matter, I'm here.
And that's one of the main reasons why I was protesting today, in memory of George Floyd and thinking of the greater humanity that we all should share, the equality that we all should share and really thinking also how to enact that which I believe is by voting.
HARLOW: I think you bring up such an important point with the humanity of it and the humanity of George Floyd. I hope that there is a day when people remember him in this moment not just for how he died. That is critically important to always remember. But for who he was. And for why he moved to Minnesota. He came to Minnesota, his fiance said, for opportunity and told people come here. This is a state that welcomes you and gives you so much opportunity. And then everything was taken away from him. So, I hope we can remember the man and all he stood for as well. So, can you leave us with just a beautiful note tonight? I think we all need to hear it.
(JON BATISTE SINGING)
We're never alone
We're never alone
We're never alone
The ancestors are with us
Because we are, we are, we are the chosen ones
We are, we are, we are the golden ones
HARLOW: The power of music to help us unite and heal. You made my night. Jon Batiste, thank you. We have more news ahead. But why don't you take us to break?