Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Protests Against Racism Organized Around The World; Barr Defends Use Of Crowd Control Before Trump Church Photo-Op; House Democrats To Unveil Legislation To Combat Police Brutality. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 7, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:52]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with a nation pushing for change on this now 13th straight day of protests in cities large and small, and these protests have extended around the world. More protests are taking place right now all demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

On Saturday, Washington, D.C. saw its largest crowds since the demonstrations began and more large crowds are gathering there today and we are seeing some powerful moments on the streets of the Nation's Capital.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon standing shoulder to shoulder on that very street, 16th Street Northwest leading to the front door of the White House, on a street that now is marked with yellow bold letters Black Lives Matter.

With these protests growing increasingly peaceful, President Trump now says that he has ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops from Washington. This comes as a new poll shows 80 percent of Americans believe the situation in the U.S. is out of control. Many of those polled referencing the handling of the protests and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And this morning, even former Secretary of State Colin Powell, taking aim at the President as the nation cries out for change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are at turning points. I mean, the Republican Party and the President, thought they were sort of immune, they can go say anything they wanted.

And even more troubling, the Congress would just sit there and not in any way resist what the President is doing. And the one word I have to use with respect to what he has been doing for the last several years is a word I would never have used before, I never would have used with any of the four Presidents I've worked for -- he lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Let's go now to our Nation's Capital, CNN's Pete Muntean is there as protesters gather once again. Exactly where are you in the Nation's Capital and what's happening?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we're in Dupont Circle which is really the center of Northwest Washington, D.C. and folks here are gathering for a Black Lives Matter protest that kicks off right about now. They will head eight blocks down to Black Lives Matter Plaza right in front of the White House.

It is a very diverse group, a very young group. I want to show you this sign. It says, "I'm not black, but I see you. I hear you and I stand with you." You know, this will be a pretty big one that lasts until about eight o'clock tonight.

I just want to talk to some of the folks here and a bit of their strategy. You know, they're gathering supplies. They've got bananas, they've got a granola bars, they've got water bottles. It's a pretty hot day -- random.

You're from Springfield, Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MUNTEAN: And I just want to get a little closer to you now. You protested yesterday in National Harbor, Maryland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we protested from National Harbor, walked across the Woodrow Wilson into Virginia. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was hundreds of us out there just using our voice for those that no longer have one.

MUNTEAN: Why is it so important to be here in Washington today? The Mayor says, she hopes this really becomes a focal point after protests subside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, this is the Nation's Capital and this is where a lot of decisions are made and we have down the street in the White House, a gentleman who does not agree with what we're walking for, what we're protesting for.

And I think it's necessary that we're in D.C., in the Nation's Capital, speaking loudly against police brutality, against racism, against violence.

Time and time again, our black men and women are being killed by not only just police officers, but by those who think with privilege that think that they can take our life just because of something that we're doing like jogging.

MUNTEAN: Underscore for me why it's so important to remain peaceful. You know, Mayor Bowser said yesterday, no arrest in Washington. Tens of thousands of people out in front of the White House. Why is that so key here? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think all of us have the same message

and they all had been peaceful. I think along the way, there's been a few people that want to provoke and agitate. But we're a diverse crowd here and we all have the same message and it is important to remain peaceful so that our voice is not -- is not distracted by, you know, looters and rioters, that we stay focused on what we're out here for.

MUNTEAN: Thanks for talking to me. Things just getting going here in Dupont Circle, an eight-block march, down to in front of the White House. Opening remarks just beginning right now here -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Pete Muntean. Thanks so much. There in Dupont Circle, D.C.

[15:05:08]

WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Washington comes nearly a week after a dramatic scene unfolded in Lafayette Square.

Last Monday, Federal law enforcement used riot control techniques to disperse a crowd of peaceful protesters while President Trump gave a speech from the Rose Garden.

That chaotic ordeal happening to allow -- meaning, the police moving the protesters -- to allow the President to walk across the street and then take this photo in front of St. John's Church holding a Bible.

Today, the nation's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General -- U.S. Attorney General William Barr defending those actions.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is at the White House. So, what's he saying? And in what form is he defending the actions?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we've really seen a bunch of tap dancing from the Attorney General over the past few days. First, he did an interview with "The Associated Press" where he appeared to be distancing himself from that event Monday, saying that he didn't give the final order, that he wouldn't be in charge of giving those kind of tactical commands.

Now, he is out there in another interview saying that he defends what they did, that it was an appropriate action, and just to go over what those actions were, it included, charging these protesters. It included using smoke canisters and pepper balls.

And he says that this was appropriate because the police were facing some resilience. Take a listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: ... yes, they were.

HOLMES: As I'm saying, three of my colleagues were there. They did not see projectiles being thrown.

BARR: I was there. I was there.

HOLMES: When that happened.

BARR: They were thrown. I saw them thrown.

HOLMES: And you believe that what the Park Police did using teargas and projectiles was appropriate?

BARR: Here's what the media is missing. This was not an operation to respond to that particular crowd. It was an operation to move the perimeter one block.

HOLMES: And the methods they used you think were appropriate. Is that what you're saying?

BARR: When they met resistance, yes. They announced three times, they didn't move.

By the way, there was no teargas used. The teargas was used Sunday when they had to clear H Street to allow the Fire Department to come in to save St. John's Church.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Okay, so a couple of things to point out here. One, obviously he said resistance, not resilience, so forgive my misspeak there.

The other thing I want to note is that, we also had colleagues who were out in the park, who were impacted by that irritant. Now, Barr says that those pepper balls are not a chemical irritant. That's what he is really splitting hairs over the teargas.

But again, we all watched that unfold, and we watched Barr in Lafayette Park moments before that all took place. Those are on footage.

Wolf Blitzer was anchoring and talking about how he was talking to law enforcement, William Barr was and what exactly was going on. So, all of that exists.

Now, I do want to take note of one other part of that interview, which is something we've been talking about and it was this idea that President Trump had requested 10,000 active duty troops beyond the street in Washington, D.C. and on cities around the country during these protests, an idea that his military officials really pushed back on.

Now, Barr denied that this ever happened, but he said that if they wanted to do it, they could have and that these troops were on standby.

But he said that the President himself never requested those 10,000 troops -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Kristen Holmes at the White House, keep us posted. Thanks so much. All right, lots to talk about here. I want to bring in CNN political

commentator, David Swerdlick. He serves as the assistant editor at "The Washington Post."

David, it's been a long time. So, glad you're back. So, let's talk about this ...

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nice to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: ... and what the U.S. Attorney General is saying that it wasn't his view appropriate for those methods to be used on peaceful protesters who were carrying out their constitutional rights. What goes through your mind about his point of view? His role in all of this?

SWERDLICK: Yes, good afternoon, Fred. What goes through my mind is that I'm not a big fan of the term gaslighting, but that is what Attorney General Barr is doing in this situation. He is gaslighting.

I mean, we all watched that scene play out on the street in front of Lafayette Park. There was an almost seamless choreography between police clearing that street in front of the park, the President emerging from the White House, and then the President doing that photo op and the sort of clean up on aisle seven.

What had happened was from both Secretary Esper earlier in the week, and now the Attorney General shows that they realized that they looked like and probably did cross that line from being law and order tough to being towing right up to that line of dissent -- squelching free speech and dissent and being a little bit autocratic.

I will just note that the image that strikes me from that, Fred, was not the pepper spray or the bullets, but when the police charged, a person fell down, another person tried to pick them up and the police pushed that person over, too.

I've watched it over and over again. It's just hard to imagine what the Attorney General is thinking.

WHITFIELD: And then despite what the Attorney General is saying, the President is being condemned by a number of people and you know, including from people in the highest ranks of the military and the retired General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as you heard earlier today with his interview with Jake Tapper.

You know, he said the President is straying further and further away from the Constitution. Listen.

[15:10:17]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: We have a Constitution and we have to follow that Constitution, and the President has drifted away from it. I'm so proud of what these generals and admirals have done, and others have done. But you know, I didn't write a letter because I made my point with

respect to Trump's performance some four years ago when he was running for office.

And when I heard some of the things he was saying, it made it clear that I could not possibly vote for this individual.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, with the gravity that comes with, you know, Colin Powell, a decorated military leader, former Secretary of State, longtime Republican, what does it say that he would say this?

SWERDLICK: I think it says a lot, Fred, right. A longtime Republican was President Reagan's National Security Adviser, was Joint Chiefs under the first Bush, Secretary of State under the second Bush, a moderate Republican who has been saying now for years that he is disappointed with his own party, especially on issues of free speech and dissent, on issues of race, on issues of voting.

And, you know, he is underscoring that point here today and it is just one voice of many, but I think his voice carries more weight than some of those other generals in some ways, because, as General Powell noted himself in that interview with Jake, he has been consistent.

You had General Mattis speak out this week. You had General Kelly speak out this week. But they both went to work for President Trump, even though President Trump is essentially the same guy that he was when they decided to work for him.

So, I do think we're seeing sort of a tipping point here, but the question is, who will speak and how much weight will their words carry?

WHITFIELD: All right, David Swerdlick, thanks so much. Good to see you.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now from Shaker Heights, Ohio is Kim Harris, founder of SAMS, which stands for Shaker African- American Mothers Support, along with her 29-year-old son, Jonathan Martin.

Kim, and Jonathan, good to see you both. So Kim, you know, you're an active leader in your community, you provide support for families and young people to have positive experiences with police. How do you do that?

KIM HARRIS, FOUNDER, SHAKER AFRICAN-AMERICAN MOTHERS SUPPORT: Well, SAMS was put in place to create forums for moms to be sure that they felt as if they were in the loop.

You know, we all have to deal with implicit bias and we try to come up with strategies to take them on, and in doing that, the police become a part of that narrative. We are really lucky to have a great police department and they're

willing to work with programs that we're putting in place. One program is called STAY, and it kind of gives kids a tool to use when faced with interaction with police. It breaks down to be stopped, take direction, articulate and yield.

WHITFIELD: So Jonathan, while your mom, you know, is trying to help young people and families feel comfortable with police as an adult, as a black man, what is your -- what has been your experience? What is your feeling when you see a police officer you're in the company of? Are you feeling comfortable? Or are you reticent in any way?

JONATHAN MARTIN, SON OF KIM HARRIS: So, I'm actually pretty fortunate that the city that we live, I feel like I really haven't had many issues with racial bias and the thing that kind of bothers me, so I feel like in Shaker, we get a lot of the exception and not the norm.

I think in other cities around, there's always a lot of bias and stuff like that, that people are dealing with that I don't necessarily experience so much.

WHITFIELD: So then, you know, Jonathan, even with that, you know, the comfort level that you had, did you feel something different about your place in police officers' eyes after seeing George Floyd, his death on video, or even that of Eric Garner killed in a police restraint years ago?

MARTIN: So, when I saw that, it definitely showed me that racism is still a big problem in America at large, and I know for a fact that there's always going to be -- you know, it's just always going to be somewhere in our culture.

And, you know, just seeing that happen firsthand on videos, it's really sobering to see that we're not out of the woods yet.

WHITFIELD: Kim, many of us are struggling, you know, with how do we talk to our kids, you know that video cannot be rationalized and your conversations with your young kids may be different than your older kids.

You know, so how do you suggest explaining this? Or, you know, how do you begin this conversation?

HARRIS: Definitely, you know, I'm happy to be here with Jonathan. You know, I do have two other sons. One that has just turned 13, so now he is a teenager, able to wander independently in the community -- Damien; and Christopher is 11.

So, it's time to have those options conversations, and it's time to watch that innocence seep away because I had to let them know that the skin that they're in, the skin that they cannot escape sometimes poses a threat.

The experiences between my older son and my younger sons are much different. He did just share with you that his experience has been much more positive. My younger sons, the conversation is more, you know, direct. It is

more alarming, I would think and ...

WHITFIELD: Do you allow the conversation to happen with the video? This graphic video?

HARRIS: Definitely. This conversation definitely has to happen. And I suggest that parents have the conversation, have it early enough and make sure they're given their children steps.

The message needs to be a linear message. You know, what is the intent to take the next best step? This is what you're seeing. But how do you think you can play a part in making this better?

WHITFIELD: Kim Harris and Jonathan Martin, thanks to both of you for being with me, and thanks for helping so many people -- big people and small people navigate all of this. Appreciate it.

HARRIS: Thank you for having us.

MARTIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And be sure to join me tonight for a very special conversation, "Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism." That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Still ahead, a horrific case of excessive force on display in Fairfax County, Virginia. Police body cam captures an officer pinning down an unarmed black man with his knee and then tasing him in the neck.

The fallout, next.

Plus, Black Lives Matter demonstrations popping up in the streets of London and beyond, protesters pulling down a statue of a British slave trader rolling it down the street as you see right there and then throwing it in the river. A live report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A police officer in Virginia is now facing assault and battery charges after tasing and arresting a disoriented black man without obvious provocation.

The Fairfax County Virginia Police Chief releasing this body cam footage of the incident calling the officer's actions criminal. The incident began after someone reported that the victim was walking in the street and shouting that he needed oxygen.

The first responders on the scene were trying to determine if the victim needed medical attention when an officer arrived and then the situation turned.

[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]

WHITFIELD: As you see there, the officer ordering the man to get to the ground before using his stun gun then using his knee to pin him down just seconds later.

If convicted of assault and battery, the officer faces up to three years in prison as the State Attorney prosecuting the case vows to get justice for the victim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DESCANO, VIRGINIA STATE ATTORNEY: We can all agree that the footage of this incident is unsettling. I want our community to know that we are pursuing charges that are in line with current law and supported by the evidence with which we have been presented.

However, I also appreciate that this may not immediately reconcile our feelings about what we see.

I can tell you three important things. First, we will seek justice in this case as we do in all of our cases, with our community values front and center.

Second, I cannot overstate the value and role -- the value of in the role that body-worn cameras have played in our investigation into this matter.

We are fortunate that this technology was in use in the region of the county within which this incident occurred. Without it, I fear we would have had an unfortunately narrow and somewhat distorted view of what happened to one of our own neighborhoods.

Lastly, this county, Fairfax County is our home and we hold ourselves to a much higher standard than what we see in this video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now to discuss Melissa Murray, a Law Professor at NYU and the host of "The Strict Scrutiny" podcast and Vince Velazquez, a retired detective and law enforcement expert. Good to see both of you.

All right, so Vince, I want to begin with you because it's hard to look at that video and not say, boy, that's really disturbing. Is the issue at hand here training, lack thereof or is it something else?

VINCE VELAZQUEZ, RETIRED DETECTIVE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERT: And you're right, Fredricka, it is very disturbing, and I will say training and we've heard officers and the community mention training, training, training, and I want to draw a parallel from this case to the George Floyd case.

When we talk about training, there's something that I call the singular officer position, meaning, when they are in a group of people, officers should be trained that when something is happening that is not right, unsafe, unlawful, they then have to act as an individual and stop that from happening, as in the George Floyd case with the Asian officer who did absolutely nothing.

In this particular case, if you look at this video closely, that officer comes out of his vehicle, taser in hand, ready to tase him and every law enforcement professional knows, if you have to use your taser, it is for active resistance. They never even put hands on him.

The first officer was very calm and was trying to deescalate the situation, and then as we see this officer just comes out basically with his mindset that he is going to deploy his taser at this man.

WHITFIELD: And what will be that officer's defense if indeed he is able to say, there was resistance. I felt like I needed to de-escalate and this is how.

I mean, how did this officer evaluate or see this man when to everybody else, it didn't look like he was doing anything erratic that was deserving of being tased.

[15:25:16]

VELAZQUEZ: Most certainly. Now let's just look at what's going on. He is in the middle of the street. So they may say, well, he is violating pedestrian duties. There are no cars coming through there. They actually had the street shut down. So, it's not an unsafe situation for him.

Had that man been on a bridge or he had a potential of hurting himself that may be justified.

If you listen closely, the first officer -- as is the second officer is walking up with a taser, he yells to him, does he have a warrant?

Who cares? Who cares --

WHITFIELD: So there was a presumption that he must be up to no good.

VELAZQUEZ: Right.

WHITFIELD: With that kind of statement.

VELAZQUEZ: Right. There's a presumption.

WHITFIELD: Right.

VELAZQUEZ: No doubt.

WHITFIELD: And then others say that he was saying he was, you know, lacking of oxygen. So, Melissa, this is a microcosm of a much bigger thing, right?

So, House Democrats -- we're going to go a little political here on looking at this -- you know, are set to present legislation aimed at combating police brutality and racial injustice next week, and so this package will include provisions to end racial profiling, the excessive use of force and qualified immunity for police officers.

So, how much confidence do you have in this attempt?

MELISSA MURRAY, LAW PROFESSOR, NYU: I think it's a really important attempt and one that has to be made. I think it's really important for your viewers to understand that one of the reasons that police are not necessarily held accountable in a legal manner for their actions is because of qualified immunity, which basically shields state officials from discretionary measures taken in the course of their official conduct if those discretionary actions do not clearly violate established rights or establish laws.

So, it's very easy for the police to get away with it and not be held accountable because of these qualified immunity laws. And again, this particular package of bills which not only ask for more transparency and greater training for police officers, but also asked for the elimination of certain rules around qualified immunity is an enormous step forward in allowing the legal system to address episodes of police misconduct.

WHITFIELD: So Vince, there's that attempt legislatively, but I also keep hearing from people and their experience in law enforcement who say the police unions are really powerful, and police unions are able to help defend and protect police officers unlike anybody else regardless of what laws may be on the books.

Do you see that -- where we are right now in this climate, that there will be new pressure on police unions to have a less biased approach toward police officers?

VELAZQUEZ: I can't see how they can't. I mean, they have to like this is -- this is like a revolution, like people are speaking out. No one has seen what we're seeing today for the outcry and the protests and people want police officers to be held accountable.

Police unions are very strong depending on what part of the country. Some states allow collective bargaining. Those are stronger unions. Other states do not and they're merely just there for legal representation.

When we talk about training as a police officer applicant, part of that process is a polygraph. They ask police officers during that process, have you ever smoked marijuana? Yet, there are no questions about implicit or explicit racial bias.

WHITFIELD: Do you think there should be?

VELAZQUEZ: That's where we need to start. Absolutely. Absolutely. Not only that, police officers when they are involved in a shooting situation, they're required to see a psychologist before they come back to duty.

WHITFIELD: Okay.

VELAZQUEZ: What about seeing a psychologist throughout the year, a couple times a year to see if you are developing any racial bias or you have PTSD? Maybe we could prevent a shooting from happening if we start looking at the problem before it happens.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Vince Velazquez and Melissa Murray. Good to see you both. Thank you. All right. Still ahead, a caravan of protesters is headed from Compton

to Los Angeles and CNN is there live on the scene, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:33:36]

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Another day of protests scheduled for the Los Angeles area today and this comes after thousands marched in dozens of largely peaceful protests in and around Los Angeles and Southern California as a matter of fact, on Saturday.

CNN's Paul Vercammen joining us now, and Paul, tell us about this rather peculiar, unusual, fascinating scene -- I'll just use all the words -- playing out right there.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Compton, California is energized. Look down the street, it is a car caravan protest in solidarity with those who have complained again and again about police brutality.

What they're going to do is they're going to take a 10-mile journey down Central Avenue. They're going to go toward the Los Angeles Police Headquarters and they're going to end up there.

I also want to show you some video in another part of Compton, the Compton Cowboys -- many people don't know, there's a vibrant equestrian community here -- they are marching in the streets of Compton right now and the idea is --

WHITFIELD: Yes, that was the fascinating part, I thought.

VERCAMMEN: Yes -- draw attention.

WHITFIELD: Go ahead.

VERCAMMEN: It is. Absolutely. And they will -- as they honk. They wanted to draw attention to all their various causes in different ways. So, let's listen to the organizer of this car caravan, many of the members of the caravan are Latino and they wanted to make a statement here in solidarity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON GOCHEZ, CARAVAN PROTEST ORGANIZER: We have people from a lot -- South Central, people come from San Diego, people coming from Riverside, you know, and somebody sent us a message saying thank you for organizing this because there's people who, you know, who can't participate in other protests, maybe health issues, some people are in wheelchairs.

So, everybody can participate in this, and, you know, we understand we apologize, not everyone has a vehicle. But we try to have another way for more people to participate in these actions.

You know, COVID-19 is real, and we wanted people to be careful. That's why this is just another way that we can show our solidarity with the black community and the movement against police terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: And as he said, it's a way to sort of honor the COVID-19 social distancing by staying in your car. You can see this man right here is gusting up his car, "To Lucha es mi Lucha." He is basically saying, your fight is my fight.

And this is going to get off in just a few moments here in Compton, a lot of different things going on throughout this city right now with both this car caravan, and among other things, we're seeing the Compton Cowboys are going to leave that march through another part of Compton.

Reporting from Compton, I am Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Paul. We had said, this is quite the tapestry all of these protests across the country and that exemplifies that indeed. Thanks so much.

All right, New York has joined a growing number of cities across the country lifting curfews. The move comes a day earlier than expected. It follows Saturday's marches, which appear to be some of the biggest protest to date in New York and in other cities across the country. Demonstrations that were largely peaceful.

CNN's Bill Weir joins us now from New York where protesters have gathered yet once again there. It looks like you're in lower Manhattan, maybe near The Village or where are you?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, Fred. The center of Brooklyn here. We have another gorgeous day, another massive peaceful protest. And yes, early this morning, Mayor de Blasio tweeted the curfew was lifted immediately after several big, incredibly peaceful days. He hopes it doesn't come back.

Of course, the COVID-19 ban is lifting on Monday. He wants to help the economy by getting rid of the curfew which would be onerous, of course upon owners. But take a look at this moment last night.

We marched yesterday for about 10 hours, all over the place, massive protests and one that really was the sort of the diehards in Manhattan last night were led by a young man named Paris Howard, and at one point after munching three hours past curfew, NYPD Inspector named Inspector Elias Nikas said, I will walk with you, guys. I will join you for the last mile here down 34th Street, and the crowd seemed very appreciative of that.

Paris Howard said look, Inspector Nikas is protecting us. We can finish our March in peace. The two men ended up shaking hands putting arms around each other, much to the delight of the several hundred protesters that were left around 11 o'clock last night.

So, that is so indicative of a sea change in the approach from NYPD over the last 10, 11, 12 days since George Floyd's tragic death and what started with, you know, batons and teargas ended up in sort of a miracle on 34th Street, arms around each other and a heartwarming moment there.

Now today, Mayor de Blasio said, as people, you can see the signs here calling to defund NYPD, pledged he would do that. He would cut the $6 billion NYPD budget. That's about six percent of his total budget for this city here and he is saying that a lot of cities where money that they think could go to mental healthcare, to homeless issues, to young education and housing, things that lead to systematic poverty, and these sorts of things. It could be better spent.

So big, big developments, at least here in New York City -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming together. Thank you so much, Bill Weir, appreciate it.

All right, solidarity with American protesters, demonstrations across the globe are popping up tearing down the legacy of racism and pushing for police reform. A live report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:43:15]

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Live pictures right now out of the Nation's Capital, the very location on 16th Street Northwest, the street that leads to the front door of the White House where the Mayor had commissioned Black Lives Matter be painted in yellow bold letters.

Now, you're seeing a number of demonstrators sitting, laying, some even laying on their stomachs with their hands behind their backs and you can hear the silence.

This as solidarity protests are taking place around the world, all for George Floyd and for racial justice collectively, including in London where thousands of demonstrators gathered again to protest in the city center. Max Foster is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tens of thousands again taking to Europe's streets, bigger and noisier than last weekend. Protesters gathering outside the U.S. Embassy in London, peaceful and upbeat as the same chants go global.

GROUP: Black lives matters.

FOSTER (voice over): Sparked by protests in the United States, demonstrators have come together across the continent to call for change, the killing of George Floyd sparking a global movement against racism.

Here in London, eight minutes of silence as protesters kneel in tribute to Floyd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you know, I think it's the best turnout, and it was nice to see we've seen more police action on that yesterday where horses were running through, gas cans as well for all -- I think it's a lot better atmosphere, as you've got that police officer there, he is interacting with everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a trend. This is not a hashtag. We're not here for a fashion. We're here to change something. Racism cannot be tolerated in our culture, in our society. We need to change this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way that the media is trying to portray it is that people are being angry, people are fighting. There's stuff going on that the media makes it look like we're the ones doing the wrong. We're not doing the wrong, we're peaceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER (voice over): Whilst the British government has urged members of the public not to demonstrate, the U.K. Health Secretary expressed his concerns over the lack of social distancing, and potential spread of the coronavirus.

Protesters have come out in full force. Many of them wore masks to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

FOSTER (on camera): A more positive, sort of upbeat tone really to the protests in London today and buoyed by the fact that more protests are spreading around the U.K. from here in London.

FOSTER (voice over): A striking scene in the City of Bristol, Western England where protesters pulled down a statue of a 17th century slave trader Edward Colston.

A sense of fervor, which has spread not only across the U.K., but also through the streets of Rome and Madrid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Just to show you really how quickly things can change though. We're currently in Westminster, which is a political district, if we turn the camera around, you can see people are all moving up this way because there's been a few altercations this evening.

You can see over there, that's Downing Street and the crowds have been heading that way. People have been trying to pull down the flags there on the Cenotaph, a War Memorial and it's getting really quite tense now, which isn't the picture of the day. It's been a very calm day, very civilized protests.

But there's this pattern that forms. Those protesters then come up to Westminster and try to express themselves about what's going on, particularly in terms of politics. A lot of them have issues with the current government and there have been plastic bottles flying. We can see a stick there flying.

There was quite a tense scene just on this side of those arches that you can see over there. There's a standoff between protesters and riot police. Well, riot trained police, you can see them still lined up there, that calmed down.

But then we had this moment with the flags being pulled, and everyone ran down that way and there are various missiles, you know, bottles, plastic bottles being thrown away and we had some water thrown at us as well, as media.

So it is a tense scene, but I don't want you to think that this has been the picture of the day because it hasn't been, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, both lots of cohesion and lots of volatility in this protest you're seeing in London. Thanks so much, Max Foster.

All right, straight ahead, a spike in cases at some of the nation's top colleges and it's threatening college football. We're talking about coronavirus cases.

We're live with details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:02:29]

WHITFIELD: All right, with college athletes returning to campus for workouts, the number of coronavirus cases among those student athletes is on the rise.

CNN sports correspondent Carolyn Manno joining us now. So, how might these rash of new cases impact the return of college sports in the fall?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, if I'm an athletic director, I don't know how much sleep I'm getting right now, let's put it that way, Fred.

I mean positive cases should not really be a surprise given how contagious this virus has proven to be, but an outbreak at a university is a nightmare scenario for these schools who are desperate to play fall sports, specifically football.

And I only say that because that's where the financial stakes are the highest. You saw schools welcoming back student athletes to try to get in shape this week, and now you're seeing these clusters of cases that sometimes require 14-day quarantines.

So, if you have a left tackle that infects an offensive line and the quarterback, that's a really big deal and a problem moving forward and the football season is right around the corner.

So Fred, I think you're going to see a lot of schools pause now. Maybe rethink their testing protocol, rethink their schedule, maybe separate their athletes, say we're not going to start our voluntary workouts that we had planned on starting as early as next week and really reassess so that they could try to find some semblance of a season if it's still to be.

WHITFIELD: Right, if it's still to be because, you know, they have to train to be fit so that they don't get injured. But then if they're getting sick before they can even play, bad combination.

All right. Carol Manno, thank you so much.

We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:58:35]

WHITFIELD: Right now, more than eight million Americans are under tropical storm warnings. Strong winds from tropical storm Cristobal are already reaching the Louisiana Coast and the storm is expected to make landfall in just a few hours.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is near the Mississippi River near the French Quarter of New Orleans. What are you experiencing there?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Fredricka, that's right. We're on the banks of the Mississippi in New Orleans, a city that's no stranger to tropical storms or hurricanes. But this one just seems a little bit different.

Of course, it's on the backdrop of several national emergencies taking place, a looming active Atlantic hurricane season, a great trial run for the residents of this particular city.

But what I want our viewers to understand about New Orleans is that the majority of the Metropolitan is actually below sea level and the sewage and drainage system here is over 100 years old, so it doesn't take long for some of the bands from tropical storm Cristobal to actually overtake and outperform the ability of the drainage system.

So, we have seen some localized street flooding within the city and strong gusty winds throughout the course of the day today. Just walking around the French Quarter within the past couple of hours, we have seen some of the boarded up shops, of course, that may have been because of the ongoing protests that have occurred this weekend.

But there's also been signs that some of the businesses have been preparing for flooding because sandbags have lined the doors of many of these the shops as well.

Fredricka, that's the latest from New Orleans.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Derek Van Dam. Be careful and everyone there as well.

And thank you so much for joining me today this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I hope you'll join me tonight for a very special program, "Unconscious Bias: Facing the Realities of Racism." That's tonight at 10 right here on CNN.

[16:00:19]

END