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THE SITUATION ROOM

Tens of Thousands Protest In The Nation's Capital Today; Thousands Join In Peaceful Protests Across Los Angeles; Peaceful Protesters In New York Despite Curfew; White House Wanted 10,000 Active Duty Troops In U.S. Cities; Minnesota Attorney General Says Difficult To Convict The Police; Officials Warn Protests Could Cause Surge In Virus Cases; Protesters March For Black Lives All Over The World. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 6, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:01:27]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

The peaceful fight for change is continuing across the United States this Saturday night filling our streets with renewed calls for reforms after George Floyd's killing nearly two weeks ago. So far tonight we have not heard of any notable clashes or violence in the United States after a day of demonstrations that continue this hour.

Also tonight, CNN confirms that Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, will testify before Congress on Wednesday. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating police practices and law enforcement accountability.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, peaceful marchers filled a tunnel. It's the light of justice they seek at the end after countless examples of police overstepping their authority during confrontations with people of color.

And from down below to high above, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City filled with thousands more demonstrators fighting for the Black Lives Matter movement.

And we can take you even higher. This is the view from space. Look at this. A satellite image. On the left the words Black Lives Matter now fill two entire city blocks in Washington, D.C. but not just any blocks. Look on the right. That's the White House. The massive street mural is part of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's instant creation of what is now officially called Black Lives Matter Plaza.

And back on the ground Mayor Bowser joined the crowds in that plaza earlier today as they called for action. Tens of thousands marched through Washington alone. As for the current occupant of the White House President Trump has

been out of sight all day. We haven't heard from him on this crisis today with the exception of a three-word tweet. It doesn't read Black Lives Matter. It says "Law and Order."

Today we have seen perhaps the biggest protest yet here in the nation's capital. Alex Marquardt has been reporting live around Lafayette Square for us all day.

It's getting later into the evening now, Alex. Are you seeing people heading home? What's going on?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we believe, Wolf, that there were tens of thousands of people who took to the streets in the city of Washington, D.C. today.

This is Black Lives Matter Plaza as commissioned by the D.C. mayor just yesterday. It has been the scene of massive peaceful protests throughout the course of the day.

Wolf, you know Washington well. This is 16th Street. This is that long street that goes straight into the White House. You showed the viewers that satellite image of that Black Lives Matter painting on those two city blocks. What you're looking at now is protesters who have pushed others to the perimeter to add something of an addendum to that message.

We have seen a number of letters, new letters, painted on the street. And it looks like what they are about to write is "Defund the Police," which of course is a refrain that we've been hearing all across the country.

We've seen lots of people climbing streetlights to take a picture next to that Black Lives Matter Plaza sign.

Wolf, I've spoken to people throughout the course of the week who have come from out of state. Not just Maryland and Virginia but New Jersey and New York. Come all the way down here to D.C. to protest because this city is the nation's capital because it is so symbolically important, and because they can protest right outside the White House.

[21:05:02]

Listen to what one man -- one protester told me earlier today about why these protests in D.C. are unique.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: What's different, do you think, about doing this in Washington, D.C. versus other cities?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington, D.C. matters more than any other city in the world. This is the heart of the whole entire nation. When stuff is done here, everybody listens. Whether it's New York, California. But we matter. And this is where the president resides. So when we started, it becomes a trend. And D.C. has represented the world for so many years. And we needed to set an example for everybody to follow. And this is it. This is peaceful. Everybody's here. Everybody's together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: And now, Wolf, you can see this huge "Black Lives Matter" banner that is hanging from the fence that was installed earlier this week around the northern edge of Lafayette Park. This fence now stretching all the way around, most of the way around the White House. Behind this fence you've seen, Wolf, when we've been talking, law enforcement has been lined up, that is not the case tonight. That has not been the case for really the past 36 hours. And that is a reflection of how peaceful these protests have been.

And because, Wolf, they have been so peaceful, Mayor Bowser, who really has become an antagonist when it comes to President Trump by establishing this as Black Lives Matter Plaza, by painting this Black Lives Matter signage on the street right next to the White House, she has demanded that those forces that came to D.C. at the behest of the Trump administration, those federal forces that poured into the streets like from the Bureau of Prisons, the FBI, and multiple other agencies pull out of Washington, D.C.

We have new reporting from our colleague Ryan Browne who says that some of the 4,000 approximate National Guard troops who have come to D.C. from other states may be leaving as soon as Monday. And that will certainly be music to the mayor's ears. She said earlier today that she wanted to sound a warning about what happened here in terms of all those out-of-state forces, those federal officers pouring into the streets, so that it doesn't happen elsewhere -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Alex, thanks very much. Alex Marquardt reporting.

Over on the West Coast, Los Angeles is likewise seeing widespread demonstrations. Lucy Kafanov is on the scene for us there.

Lucy, so tell us what you're seeing, what's going on.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. Well, this is one of dozens of demonstrations here in Los Angeles. I know my colleague Paul Vercammen is at another location. We have hundreds if not thousands of people gathering here as they have almost every single day this week. This is downtown Los Angeles. We're on the steps of the city hall building. Behind me is the courthouse.

And this is where demonstrators say they will continue to gather on a daily basis until they see the justice and the change that they demand. Now, one of the signs that we've seen over and over again, one of the chants has been to defund the police. There has been some action by city authorities on that level. The mayor announced that the L.A. City will be looking to cut $100 million to $150 million from the LAPD budget to reinvest that money into communities of color.

But that's not likely to be enough to quell these demonstrations. I should say that they have been peaceful. A lot of folks have been joining as they march down the street. They're gathered here right now to listen to speakers. But we have seen breakaway crowds start to march and we expect them to get on the move again.

What's interesting to me, what stands out to me is just how much of a diverse crowd this is, white people, black people, members of the Asian community, Latinos, all religions, all ages represented. The atmosphere here is passionate. There's also a sense of community feeling here. There's a lot of folks handing out masks and water and snacks, making sure that the demonstrators are well fed, well-watered, have everything that they need.

And not a lot of visible police presence. There are some policemen standing on the steps of city hall protecting this area, but no National Guard as we saw on Tuesday. No police in riot gear. Another visible effort by the city to sort of deescalate the tensions and prevent the scenes that we saw last weekend that involved a lot of difficult and heavy clashes. This is a very different atmosphere. And these demonstrators, Wolf, say that they will continue to stay in the streets until their message is heard -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Lucy, thanks very much.

Let's stay in Los Angeles right now. Paul Vercammen not too far away. What are you seeing, Paul, where you are?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I'm in the Fairfax District. And last week at this time we saw everything go haywire here, Wolf. This is where we had the confrontations. Now let me show you. This is sort of a dance-off, peaceful protest. People showing up. They're in the middle of the intersection.

[21:10:02]

And police are nowhere to be seen. It is clear that they're taking a hands-off approach right now with this demonstration in this part of Los Angeles. And you can see that sign right there, "defund the police."

Let me ask you a question really quick, young man. Defund the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we want to reduce their funding. They have like too much money and resources. Put that money into things that can help people because they're just shooting unarmed black people and shooting at protesters and journalists like yourself.

VERCAMMEN: Appreciate your taking time out. Well, you can also see and you can hear -- let me just be quiet for one second here, Wolf. We'll let you hear the chanting.

(PROTESTERS CHANTING)

VERCAMMEN: And Wolf, as we come back here, they're saying, "Whose streets? Our streets." Well, this street is very busy. Beverly Boulevard. And right now it's being occupied and there are no police officers, National Guardsmen, any law enforcement in sight. I'll toss it back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Paul. Thank you. Paul Vercammen in L.A. From L.A. let's go to New York right now. Bill Weir is on the scene

for us with a group of protesters.

Update our viewers what's happening where you are, Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this has been a relatively quiet night. The groups have gotten smaller as the week progressed. We just heard police scanner traffic here. We're following this group that seems to be headed for the Manhattan Bridge that would cross into Brooklyn. According to the commander's voice we heard over the police scanner, if they try that they'll be arrested.

Most of today the protests were festive, very peaceful, and NYPD seemed to let folks wander wherever they wanted to go. But after sunset of course that's been a different story. And this will be a key interesting moment to see what the response is here. And to see how motivated these folks are to get over the bridge.

If they try, if they just use the pedestrian access they'll be allowed through. But about a half hour ago just as curfew fell many in this group took to the FDR Drive, one of the main arteries, one of the main highways on the east side of Manhattan. And -- but the police, you know, they could have swooped in on this crowd almost an hour ago if they'd wanted to and start sweeping them up for protests -- or for curfew violations. But they haven't done so yet.

Couple bits of news in New York. Four officers were reassigned as punishment. Actually, four commanders. The men in the white shirts. For their behavior during the early days of the protests. If you saw the viral videos of one commander pushing a woman down violently in the street, another one pulling a protester's mask down and pepper spraying him in the face. Those are the four that are being punished now.

Also Governor Andrew Cuomo today started really pushing his bill for police reform, which would include no more chokeholds. It would make calling 911 and making a -- you know, a false report based on race a hate crime. They would change the laws that would make sort of disciplinary records for NYPD much more transparent in this bill, and also put the attorney general in charge of any investigation that involves a civilian being killed at the hands of police.

Just some of the political pressure really being ramped up here. But now we're headed back into Chinatown. So really no telling. We're now headed back actually toward city hall and One Police Plaza. But this is the one -- it seems the one protest in New York City tonight, Wolf, in which people are defying curfew and seeing what comes next.

BLITZER: Which is very interesting. The curfew went into effect supposedly, what, an hour and 15 minutes or so ago in New York City. 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Bill. But nobody's bothering the protesters where you are, right?

WEIR: No, no. Not at all. I was listening to scanner traffic and hearing how they were just -- you know, calmly over the radio saying let them pass. If they use the pedestrian ways, let them pass. Different commanders in different precincts around the city have different attitudes about this. Uptown north of 59th Street a commander there is sort of notorious for cracking down right away as soon as the curfew drops. But there's nothing really happening up there.

[21:15:01]

So right now this is where the tension is. I saw one interesting interaction at the Manhattan Bridge earlier today when just a few dozen protesters squared off against police. And NYPD did sort of attack or retreat. They've turned around, walked away. It didn't seem worth it for them to pick up particular point of conflict.

Over here to the right you'll see -- I've seen this all day. People handing out free water and sign-making materials to protesters. And as we saw throughout most of the day the crowds was really diverse. Families out marching. Very peaceful. It was a musical second line New Orleans-style procession that went all around the city led by Jon Batiste, the band leader from Stephen Colbert's "Late Show."

And people singing along to Whitney Houston songs and "When the Saints Go Marching In." It was a very, very different attitude emotionally than we've seen all week as so much fear and anger and loathing. But tonight, as it seems, maybe because of the political pressure on these disturbing scenes of police officers around the country, using force on protesters, that the tactic is tonight to just let the crowd move as they want to and let it dissipate on their own. But who knows? I mean, it's still very early.

BLITZER: Yes, it's, what, just 9:16 here on the East Coast. Our Bill Weir. We'll stay in very close touch with you.

I want to bring in Ben Jealous right now. He's the incoming president of People for the American Way, the former head of the NAACP.

Ben, thank you so much for joining us. So you see what's going on. You've seen these protests continuing even after the curfew in New York City, for example. What do you think?

BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT-ELECT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: You know, I find it very exciting. It feels like we're at a tipping point on this issue. It's not just the protests we're seeing in the big cities. It's the protests we're seeing in small rural towns. And it really sends a signal that our country is finally at a place where maybe, maybe, finally, we can end the scourge of police killings that have been with us since the Boston massacre.

BLITZER: How important do you think these protests, nearly two weeks -- how important historically do you think they're going to turn out to be?

JEALOUS: Huge. You know, if you think about it for a second, you know, my great-grandparents' generation really forced the end of lynch mob killings in this country. And they did it by shaming department after department, voting out judge after judge and sheriff after sheriff. They never succeeded in passing the federal legislation. But they did stop the practice of lynch mob killings, which of course were facilitated by, tolerated by local law enforcement. And so we have the opportunity to do the same thing. And I think we're finally at the point where it feels like we can get there.

BLITZER: Because we've seen police acquitted in similar cases. You're very familiar. You're in Baltimore. The Freddie Gray case an example. What do you think's going to happen in the short term right now as we move forward?

JEALOUS: You know, I'm very hopeful that we will get a conviction in this case. The traffic killing of Freddie Gray, the murder of Freddie Gray, happened in a van. There was no video. What happened to George Floyd happened in the open. On the street. There's video. It's compelling. We've seen it. And so I'm very hopeful that we will get a conviction.

What is also very important is that we've stopped the next killing and the one after that and the one after that. And that's why it's so critical that we pass laws in cities across this country. More than half of black people live in about 20 metro areas in this country. We change the laws in those metro areas, we will have done a lot. 80 percent of black people live in 17 states. We change the laws in those states, we would have done a lot.

And so even in these hopefully final months of Trump being in office, when it's pretty clear he would veto any major federal legislation, there's reason to be hopeful that we can make real progress at the state level. Real progress at the city level. And frankly make the world safer for a whole lot of good people.

BLITZER: You know, it's really interesting. And we've discussed this, you know, Ben, and we're showing our viewers live pictures, of people marching in Los Angeles, people marching in New York City right now despite the curfew that supposedly was going into effect at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It's now 9:19 p.m. Eastern. All this is happening almost organically. There's not one or even two or three national leaders who have emerged who are really setting some guidelines.

[21:20:04]

That's a pretty impressive development, isn't it?

JEALOUS: It is. And it's one of the reasons to be hopeful. If you just have one leader or a handful of leaders they can quickly be attacked and discredited. When it's coming from the bottom up in city after city, county after county, little town after little town, and when there's such clear consensus, that we have to change the culture of policing in this country and finally stop the killing of unarmed civilians, especially black women and black men, black children, then there's reason to be hopeful that this movement will be resilient and that we're reaching sort of a tipping point of public consensus where we can be hopeful that real change will come and come soon.

BLITZER: In an interview, you know, Ben, with the "Baltimore Sun" you said, and I'm quoting you now, "Historians will look back on these COVID uprisings." Tell us what you meant. JEALOUS: When you get beyond the moment of an uprising, you look back,

and you look at the stats and what was happening, it's like an onion. The spark is always an act of police brutality. But honestly, that spark is going off in our country every day somewhere. What determines whether that spark catches fire and becomes a blaze is the amount of tension about joblessness, unemployment, housing, and I would say in this moment health care. And that's the way it's been throughout history.

And so yes, absolutely, the rage is about what happened to George Floyd and what's happened to so many other black women and black men and black children. And frankly many other people of many other colors as well. Police violence is worse in our community but it's not only in our community. And yet this blaze has really caught because of what's also happening in our society, which is that many states have the highest unemployment they've ever seen, people have really in a very raw way been impacted all at once by the fact that their health care is attached to their employment and they just lost their job.

And on top of that there's real anxiety about housing and unemployment. So I think that we will find that history will judge these protests. Yes, be about George Floyd but also be about the context in which they happened.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Ben Jealous, the former president and CEO of the NAACP. Ben, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

JEALOUS: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be here.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

Tonight, as the nationwide protest enters a 12th night look at these live pictures coming in. These are live pictures coming in from Chicago right now. We're watching what's going on there. We're watching what's going on elsewhere. We're also getting new details about how the pushback from the military over demand from the White House to put 10,000 troops on the streets of major American cities, how that's unfolding. Lots of news. We'll be right back.

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BLITZER: We're learning more tonight about how the Trump administration sought to use the military to bring an end to nationwide protests. The White House wanted 10,000 active-duty U.S. military troops on the streets of Washington, D.C. and other major American cities. Senior Defense officials say the president's senior military leaders including the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley and the Defense Secretary Mark Esper questioned if such a move would even be legal.

The reporting follows questions about the Defense secretary's standing with the president right now and tepid White House assurances that the president remains confident in Esper, the Defense secretary.

The former NATO Supreme Allied commander General Wesley Clark is joining us right now.

General Clark, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, Secretary Esper also recalling some active-duty forces from D.C. and made guardsman patrol without weapons. So what do you think of what's going on right now? Do you agree with all these actions?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I certainly agree with all the protesters in the street. I'm glad it's mostly peaceful. I think that it's become not just a protest over Black Lives Matter over this -- over George Floyd, but I think it's become much larger over racism in America and even against the president's inflammatory rhetoric and language.

And wrapped in that issue is his propensity to want to use the military. You know, he started this by saying he was going to have his generals and every general I know found that phraseology extremely offensive. Generals don't belong to the president. They belong to the American people. They take an oath to the Constitution. And so from that point on the military's been on guard against the politicization of the Armed Forces by Donald Trump.

And it just boiled over after that action Monday night. People all over were furious. Active duty, retired, family members. And of course if you're one of the troops and you're in uniform and you're told to go somewhere and do something you're going to do it. And they don't have any real choice. They don't often see big issues because they haven't been at that level. They haven't been exposed to it. But believe me, these protests touch a lot of profound issues.

BLITZER: As you know, the president's former Defense secretary, his first Defense secretary, the retired four-star Marine Corps General James Mattis, said of the president earlier this week, and I'm quoting General Mattis, "Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens."

[21:30:00]

You're a retired four-star general. What did you make of that?

CLARK: I thought it was a great statement. I'm glad he made it. And Wolf, he went further than that. This is what's kind of remarkable in what Jim Mattis said. He talked about President Trump as a leader, said he has immature judgment. Dividing the nation. A threat to the Constitution. Those are really powerful, powerful words.

Jim Mattis didn't want to come out. He didn't want to say anything publicly. He's been very tight-lipped about this since he left the job. But I for one am glad he spoke out. I think it's his responsibility as an American citizen and a former leader in the Armed Forces, as a retired officer, to speak out when the nation's in danger. And I think the nation was endangered by the provocative actions of President Trump.

BLITZER: General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied commander, as usual thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for everything you've done for our country. We appreciate it very much.

CLARK: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll continue to monitor the protest continuing across the country right now. They were sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd. We have new details about the criminal case against the now former police officers. You're looking at live pictures coming in from Seattle, from Denver, elsewhere. Much more of our coverage right after this.

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BLITZER: Looking at some live pictures coming in from New York right now. People, protesters are on the march right now in New York despite the fact that an hour and a half or so ago the curfew went into effect. I don't see many police officers trying to stop this. These protesters are clearly continuing the 12th night in a row.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina earlier in the day there was a private service for family and friends of George Floyd amidst so much public mourning. Today was a day for his loved ones to celebrate his life. The Reverend C. Davis Stackhouse led with a call for justice and love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. C. DAVID STACKHOUSE, LEWIS CHAPEL MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: Like a mighty stream, let truth stand tall. Like the majestic oak, let hope be as broad as the distant horizon. Let lightness, let kindness rain like a summer shower. Let love explode in every heart. Let music soar and stir our feet to action and our spirits to praise. The lord is present in this sanctuary. Amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: There will be a public viewing Monday in Houston, Texas, followed by a private ceremony on Tuesday. George Floyd's death is sparking a national reckoning on racial equality and how to hold police accountable. Earlier this week there were developments in the criminal case against the now ex-police officers involved in his death. Their lawyers previewed the police defense.

CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson is joining us right now.

Joey, several of the officers involved now seem to be citing inexperience as a reason why they should not go to jail. What do you make of that potential defense?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good luck. Wolf, good to be with you. Look, this is a very significant event that occurred. We know that from the showing of the protests. People obviously are mad as heck. They're not going to take it anymore. You see a diversity of protesters, not just African-Americans and people of color, but are joined by their white counterparts in unison that this was a disgrace. So you can use an experience to a point. Are you too inexperienced to

know that if you have your foot on -- or excuse me, your knee on the neck of someone for an extended period of time that they will die? Are you too inexperienced to know that in the event that a person is saying I am going to die, crying for their mother, and telling you they can't breathe that they shouldn't be aided and assisted in some regard?

And so you can argue inexperience. You can argue youth. You can argue the time on the force that you had was inadequate. At the end of the day the prosecution is going to argue you are a sworn officer, you had a duty, you knew better, you failed, you contributed to his death as a result of your activity and therefore the prosecution will say you're guilty. That dog will not hunt.

BLITZER: The Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison told me this week when I interviewed him here in THE SITUATION ROOM that it will be difficult to convict police officers. He says he has a very strong case but there are always problems. What do you think?

JACKSON: I do believe that that is the case. And let's talk about why, Wolf. On the one hand you have an attitudinal issue. And what is that? I think people want to side with and believe the police. People do believe in general the police are there to protect and to serve them.

And so, you know, it's a rare occasion that police even are arrested much less indicted much less convicted. You can look at Eric Garner, "I can't breathe," in New York in Staten Island. No indictments in that case.

You can look at Philando Castile, a traffic stop. Yes, the officer was indicted but he was acquitted at trial. So you're dealing with those attitudes. In addition to that you're dealing with the standard of prove, which is beyond a reasonable doubt and unanimous. Right? You have 12 jurors that have to agree. If there's one, then you know what, you have a problem. More than that, though, I think you're going to hear arguments from the other parties that were there, the police officers, concerning what their role was.

[21:40:01]

And they're going to make arguments to the extent that they were not aware of the severity, they perhaps didn't hear that George Floyd was saying he couldn't breathe or crying for his mother. They were not involved with regard to having the knee themselves on the neck.

You'll hear those arguments. And so to that extent, you know, you could perhaps convey or convince some jurors. I think at the end of the day, though, I think the prosecution does have, notwithstanding those challenges, Wolf, a compelling case to make.

BLITZER: Joey Jackson, helping us better appreciate the legal aspects of all of this as he always does. Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, we're looking at these live pictures coming in as these protests across the country are continuing this hour. It's easy to forget that we are also still very much in the middle of a pandemic. And because of that, these massive gatherings are worrying doctors.

We'll update you on that when we come back.

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BLITZER: So we've seen massive crowds turn out over the past 12 days in protests around the country.

[21:45:02]

All this as we're still very much in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. And with thousands gathering, so many unfortunately not wearing masks, health experts are deeply worried that these protests potentially could spark some new hot spots.

Joining us now is the epidemiologist, the former Detroit health commissioner, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Dr. El-Sayed, thanks so much for joining us.

So we're seeing the number of coronavirus cases here in the United States continue to rise. We're approaching two million confirmed cases, approaching 110,000 confirmed deaths in the United States over the past three months alone. Are you worried about potentially, and we hope it doesn't happen, a new spike in the wake of all of these protests?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Honestly, I am worried about a new spike. But I was worried about this new spike well before there were protests. And I will say that it's easy for us to assume that the most visual gathering of people is the reason why COVID-19 might spread. But I have to remind folks that this was a challenge, a worry that epidemiologists had well before this happened.

And also that it's those small interactions that people are having all the time as we start to open back up that of course we were attributing the potential for a second spike to come from. So I don't want folks to think that we're pitting public health against the protests because of course we know that in excess 83,000 black Americans die every year because of racism, and that itself is also a public health issue.

BLITZER: It certainly is. I was showing our viewers, Dr. El-Sayed, the live pictures from Los Angeles where there's a very large demonstration under way. I had a chance to speak just a couple of days ago with the mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and we spoke about the worries that he has about some potential new spike. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CA: It absolutely is a concern. And thank you for bringing that up, Wolf. We don't have to choose between spreading the coronavirus and having our voices heard. Practicing physical distancing, wearing face masks, washing our hands, or bringing hand sanitizer out there. It's absolutely critical. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What advice do you have for the protesters out there? Because we see them pretty close to each other. A lot of loud noise. And many of them unfortunately not wearing the face masks.

EL-SAYED: That's right. I was actually out there in Detroit just yesterday. And I'll say a couple of things. Number one, make sure you wear your face mask. Number two, if you can avoid yelling, it's better because of course droplets come out of the mouth when you yell. Bring something else to make noise or bring a sign that's big and visual. Number three, if you can, keep in a tight group rather than intermixing with the entire group to limit the potential exposure. And then number four, of course to the authorities, right? Be careful.

Anything that irritates people is going to cause those droplets to come out. And keeping people tightly held in a cell or in a jail or in a van can be really dangerous, too. So it's not just protesters themselves but it's also authorities who have a responsibility here to keep this safe, to keep this peaceful.

BLITZER: When you get home, don't just wash your hands. Probably take a shower. And put the clothes in the washer as well. That's the advice I've heard from other epidemiologists at the same time.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, thanks so much as usual for joining us. That's why I wanted you to give our viewers that very, very important medical advice. Appreciate it very much.

EL-SAYED: That's great advice, Wolf, and my privilege. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

As these nationwide protests surpass now a 12th straight day take a look at this. We have some live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C. A lot of people are still out on the streets.

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[21:52:57]

BLITZER: The protests for social justice and against excessive use of police force are resonating not just here in the United States but also in Europe indeed around the world. There have been marches and rallies in numerous cities.

Our Nic Robertson in London and Melissa Bell in Paris. They have more now on what's going on in their corners of the globe.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, thousands of people came to Central London to protest. They gathered first outside the Houses of Parliament, Parliament Green, absolutely filling it up. No social distancing. The message very clear in support of justice for George Floyd, in support Black Lives Matter.

The young people we spoke to there told us for some of them this was the first time they've come out and protest. The reason that they've done it because they've seen this effect rippling out across the world and then they marched a mile and a half to here to the U.S. embassy so that they can show what they hope was the United States, their dissatisfaction, displeasure, but the underlying message here to the United Kingdom as well. There is racism here and they want that dealt with -- Wolf.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in Paris, they've marched again. Several thousand people turned out despite this demonstration being illegal once again to fight against racism, against the injustice of police brutality. I think it's with impunity that people say all too often these allegations of wrongdoing by police across the Atlantic on this side as well.

And so this is not the first demonstration we've seen. Several thousand people turning up this afternoon in Paris but also in other French cities. We saw earlier demonstrations in Paris, very much focused on the similar case in France, that of Adama Traore, a young man who nearly four years ago, Wolf, was also killed just after being taken into police custody. You'll see his names on those signs quite a lot but also the very same words we're seeing in the United States, Black Lives Matter and no justice, no peace.

You really sense that this is a movement that has been given inspiration by events on the other side of the Atlantic -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Melissa Bell and Nic Robertson, guys, thanks very much.

[21:55:01]

And we're going to have much more live coverage still to come, but first, unconscious bias, what it is and how it affects us. Join Fredricka Whitfield for a special conversation, "UNCONSCIOUS BIAS: FACING THE REALITIES OF RACISM," that airs live tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

That does it for me, but I'll be back tomorrow night as well, 7:00 p.m. Eastern with another special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching. Poppy Harlow continues our special live coverage. That's next.

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