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Huge Protests across America against Brutality, for Equality; Philadelphia Protesters Take to Iconic "Rocky" Steps; Black Lives Matter Supporters in Berlin Hold Silent Protest; Tensions Heat Up at London Protest; Barr Denies Order to Clear D.C. Protesters; Trump Threatened Active Duty Forces to Stop Protests; Brazilian Government Hides Cumulative Case and Death Totals; JHU: More than 40K Deaths in U.K.; Louisiana Issues Storm Evacuation Orders for Several Parishes. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 7, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.
All across America on Saturday, thousands of people marching for change in policing and treatment of African Americans in what might have been the largest protests to date, this nearly two weeks after the killing of George Floyd.
In the past several hours police and protesters have been clashing in Seattle. Police say several officers were hurt when the crowd threw rocks, bottles and what they described as explosives. But for the most part the demonstrations around the country were peaceful on Saturday.
In Washington, thousands, tens of thousands, marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol to the White House, sending their message loud and clear. The city's mayor joined the crowd. She's called on president Donald Trump to remove the National Guard and other outside forces from the city.
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MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D-DC): We should all be watching this happening in Washington, D.C., because we don't want our federal government to do this to any other Americans.
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M. HOLMES: One person who is not watching, Donald Trump. At 10:00 pm he tweeted this, "Much smaller crowd in D.C. than anticipated. National Guard, Secret Service and D.C. Police have been doing a fantastic job. Thank you."
It was a pretty big crowd.
Bridges can be metaphors for healing and two of America's iconic structures have figured promptly prominently in these protests. On the left, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; on the right, New York's Brooklyn Bridge, both packed with marchers calling for social justice, a message literally resonating from coast to coast.
Demonstrators here in downtown Atlanta on Saturday showing the call for social justice can be joyful as they took a moment to dance the Electric Slide.
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M. HOLMES (voice-over): A live band playing atop a nearby parking garage as protesters gathered. Participants talked about the communal power melody and rhythm have.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music charms the soul. Music (INAUDIBLE). Music just is a universal language of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music has changed the atmosphere. I don't care what it is.
MARTIN SAVIDGE(?), CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean it's completely changed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as -- you can see, as soon as we started playing the crowd and immediately came this way. That was the whole thing, man. We want just to bring awareness to what's going on and we knew music would bring them together because everybody's coming up here now.
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M. HOLMES: A similar scene playing out on the streets of New York. Black Lives Matters demonstrators are in Brooklyn, holding signs calling for social justice and having an impromptu dance battle.
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M. HOLMES (voice-over): In Los Angeles thousands of protesters walked for miles through the city, many of them through this tunnel, chanting some of those haunting final words from George Floyd, "I can't breathe."
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M. HOLMES: In just a moment we'll take a look at what's happening in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., but we begin with Bill Weir out with the protesters in New York City.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It is the 12th night of protesting in the United States, the "Twelfth Night," of course, a Shakespeare comedy, but this is a real life drama that is playing out in cities big and small.
We're now over two hours past a mandatory curfew. And yet NYPD, the New York Police Department, is letting this group of several hundred protesters march at will. They're determined, disciplined, energized by news this week that four NYPD commanders were reassigned as punishment for roughing up peaceful protesters.
Two officers up in Buffalo, who shoved a 75-year-old man and stepped over his bleeding, unconscious body, were charged with second degree assault. They see that as a victory. The governor of New York, they are calling for police reform that would open up the disciplinary records of officers, eliminate chokeholds, make calling 9-1-1 and making false accusations against a person of color, would make that a hate crime.
WEIR: All these organizers say this is the fruit of their labor this week and you've seen, basically, the police response evolve over the week. It went from very aggressive violence, containment, now to letting these folks wear themselves out.
Today was a full day of massive, peaceful protests in many cities now. And it will be interesting to see if this momentum carries through the weekend and into next week as people, who have never protested before, are feeling this movement.
WEIR: And so -- and such is the peril of marching backwards.
You good, Emilio?
He's good, all right. I'm Bill Weir, CNN, New York.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These were the largest protests in Washington, D.C., since the death of George Floyd. Tens of thousands of people pouring into the streets of the nation's capital on Saturday. Many of them gathering right here on the newly commissioned Black Lives Matter Plaza.
So named by the mayor of D.C., who also had that huge mural, those yellow letters, painted over two city blocks on 16th Street, which runs right into Lafayette Park by the White House.
Protesters on Saturday adding the words "Defund the police," an indication they believe that the mayor has not gone far enough when it comes to police reform. But for the most part, many of the chants, much of the anger directed right there at the White House, at president Donald Trump.
You can see that fence there, which is as close as protesters can get to the White House, with a huge black banner, again, reading, Black Lives Matter.
President Trump today tweeting, Law and order."
But when it comes to law enforcement, not much of it was visible today, a testament to the fact that they felt that these protests would be peaceful. And they were almost entirely peaceful today, as they have been for the past few days.
Reflecting that, there is no curfew tonight. And you can see people are taking advantage of that, remaining out in the streets late.
Now the mayor of D.C. has demanded in a letter to President Trump that all what she called extraordinary federal and military officers be removed from D.C. because these protests have been quite peaceful.
And the commanding general for the D.C. National Guard spoke with CNN earlier, telling us that most of the National Guard who have arrived in D.C., some 4,000 of those who have come from out of state, could start leaving as soon as Monday.
As for what these protesters have planned next, many I spoke with today said they will continue protesting until they see significant change -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
DEL SHEA PERRY, HARDEL SHERRELL'S MOTHER: Why I'm out here? It's because I'm (INAUDIBLE) for justice for all mankind. It's not just about George Floyd. George Floyd was the sacrificial lamb that was slain for my son, Hardel Sherrell, for Kim Handy-Jones, Cordell's -- Cordell Handy-Jones, for the Jamar Clarks, for the Philando Castiles, for so many.
And we need to stand together because, if we don't stand for justice and for change now, if we don't get it now, we'll never get it. I didn't sign up for this. I'm an evangelist, not an activist but I've been pushed into an activism role.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Now for seeking reform, the Minneapolis City Council heard their voice. Indeed they just passed a number of sweeping regulations on the police department including a ban on the use of chokeholds.
We know, we saw in that cellphone footage, an officer with his knee on George Floyd's neck. That type of technique will no longer be possible by police officers. But they're taking it a step farther. Police officers in Minneapolis, it will now be incumbent upon them to intervene and stop colleagues that they see using these banned techniques.
Now reform activists tell us that these steps are needed in Minneapolis but also across the United States -- Josh Campbell, CNN, St. Paul, Minnesota.
M. HOLMES: Members of the Denver Broncos football team organized a march for racial equality in their city.
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M. HOLMES: The team's official Twitter account posted this video on Saturday as the crowd chanted in support. Star linebacker Von Miller addressing the crowd, saying, keep up the fight.
VON MILLER, DENVER BRONCOS: It's 2020. (INAUDIBLE) our league (INAUDIBLE) still fighting this fight and it's up to us to keep it going.
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M. HOLMES: And let's have a look at Philadelphia. Peaceful demonstrators there. A dramatic show of solidarity on Saturday outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You might recognize those steps there from the iconic scene in the movie, "Rocky."
But now people fighting for real change in what looks like a defining moment in American history.
M. HOLMES: Might it be.
Also in Philadelphia, a police inspector facing charges after he was seen hitting a protester on the head with a baton. We need to warn you that we don't know what happened leading up to this and that what you're about to see is disturbing.
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M. HOLMES (voice-over): The district attorney there says the staff inspector faces multiple charges, including aggravated assault.
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M. HOLMES: And the two police officers who were seen on video pushing a senior citizen protesting in Buffalo, New York, have now been arraigned. Both officers pleading not guilty to one count of assault in the second degree. And the crowd welcomed that news of being released with cheers and applause.
The district attorney says the 75-year-old man was treated for head injuries, loss of consciousness and bleeding from one ear.
On Wednesday, George Floyd's brother is set to testify before Congress on a topic many protesters are pushing for. He will appear at a hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability following the death of his brother.
Philonise Floyd says he spoke with President Trump and also with the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. He said Biden talked to him constantly while the president didn't give him an opportunity to speak.
Already government officials and police departments are moving to change policy. On Monday, the Congressional Black Caucus submitting a proposal for addressing police brutality and racial injustice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats are close to announcing an initiative with provisions to end racial profiling and excessive use of force.
In Minneapolis, as Josh Campbell just reported, the city council has voted to ban police chokeholds and neck restraints like the one Derek Chauvin used on George Floyd. The city will also require officers to intervene when they see inappropriate use of force by colleagues.
And in Sacramento, a chokehold that leaves a person unconscious is out. Police officers can no longer use it and there will be no more training on that hold.
In Portland, the police can only use gas to disperse crowds if there is serious and immediate threat to life. Seattle's police chief announcing his force is suspending the use of tear gas for 30 days.
M. HOLMES: Joining me now is Eric Adams. He is the Brooklyn borough president and a former captain in the New York Police Department, also a former New York state senator.
Great to have you on and you've got a great knowledge for this issue. We have seen police empathizing with protesters. We've also sadly seen many examples of, you know, aggressive action to put it politely by police.
What have you seen and what gives you hope, what concerns you about the images?
ERIC ADAMS, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT: I have witnessed a combination of both as well. I have witnessed officers showing a great level of discipline and as well as officers using aggressive force more than should be used at a protest scene.
This is my life's work as a person that has marched during the day to protect the rights of people, like Abner Louima, when he was sodomized, and I have protected those who have protested. So I believe it's imperative that we act accordingly at all times.
M. HOLMES: You do have a unique view here. You're a former cop but you're also a former teenager, who was beaten by the police, I think, when you were 15.
I heard you say in another interview, quote, "Everyone who is in the occupation is not suitable for every role in the occupation."
It's a fairly -- it certainly seems there are some police well trained to deal with these situations. There are others who seem pretty bad at it.
What needs to change to make that not happen?
ADAMS: Oftentimes police agencies, they have units that respond to some form of social unrest or social disturbance or protest. And what we do when we mobilize or train these units, we do not train them in some of the psychological profiles that we should look at and what to expect and how to really deal with these extremely challenging roles.
ADAMS: Just as we wouldn't put an emergency room doctor in a place to do brain surgery, just because you are a doctor doesn't mean you do every role in that profession, and that's the same with police.
We feel that police, because they're trained to do law enforcement, that they can do every role in it. The person who's with me to go through a door, to get someone that's carrying or using a gun is not the same person that should be on the front line all the time, trying to de-escalate a situation, dealing with a peaceful protest.
M. HOLMES: That is such a good point about those who are suited and those who are not.
The other thing, too, and it's interesting. Tactically, we've seen a number of police forces pull back on Saturday. Washington, D.C., notably. Here in Atlanta, other cities as well. And the result has been a deescalation. I'm curious whether you think that should perhaps have happened earlier over the last 1.5 weeks.
ADAMS: Yes, it should. We should focus on those who are looters, those who are damaging property severely. But clearly those who are peacefully voicing their righteous concern, we should not be utilizing manpower to stop them.
There are ways to do it and you're not going to really aggravate the situation. I think that when you use force, when you charge at peaceful demonstrators, when you swing your baton, when you do takedown measures, when you do things like that, macing people, that is only aggravating the situation.
Peaceful demonstration should be allowed. We should move back. There are some commanders here in Brooklyn, like Chief Maddrey. He has done an amazing job of understanding we're going to give people enough room to peacefully demonstrate without having damage to property or injury to people.
And the demonstrators have done an amazing job of policing themselves. We cannot look at what happened Friday, at the beginning of this, when we had outside agitators. Now we seem to have just a good core of people peacefully demonstrating.
M. HOLMES: Good point. I wanted to ask you, too, as a former cop and somebody who rose through the ranks there, when it comes to the George Floyd killing, I mean, speak to the need of officers to intervene when they see other officers doing the wrong thing.
I mean, you'd think surely that's their duty but often that's not the straight reality, is it?
ADAMS: No, so true. And not only is it not the reality, it is not what is practiced in the real application of policing.
Let's be clear. What you learn in the police academy basically goes out the door when you enter a police command. I cannot tell you how many times I heard, as a rookie, hey, kid, now you're going to learn the real job.
And so if you don't have constant reinforcement and application of the principles that officers must not only de-escalate a person who is aggravated or committing some form of offense but he must learn how to de-escalate himself and de-escalate his partner.
What happened in Minnesota is clearly sending a message that you are your brother's keeper, you're going to be held responsible for your fellow officer's action. If you do not intervene and stop it from happening, you will be held accountable. That is very important.
M. HOLMES: A real pleasure to speak with you, Eric. Thank you so much. A great insight, great perspective on all of this. Eric Adams, our thanks.
ADAMS: Thank you.
M. HOLMES: In North Carolina on Saturday, family and friends of George Floyd attended a private memorial service near his hometown of Fayetteville. It was a day for his loved ones to celebrate his life.
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M. HOLMES (voice-over): Reverend C. David Stackhouse led the service with a call for justice and love.
C. DAVID STACKHOUSE, PASTOR: Like a mighty stream, let truth stand tall. Like the majestic oak, let hope be as broad as the distant (INAUDIBLE) 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.
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M. HOLMES: A public visitation is scheduled for Monday in Houston followed by a private ceremony on Tuesday.
M. HOLMES: Protests all over France, with people defying coronavirus rules, to rally in support of Black Lives Matter. Here in Paris, they're also protesting against racism and police brutality. Other demonstrations have been renewing calls for justice for a young black man killed in French police custody in 2016.
People in Germany are also protesting against racism and police violence; this time, though, silent demonstrations. One took place in the heart of Berlin. Police asked the 1,500 people who were there to maintain social distancing because of the pandemic.
Demonstrators say they wanted to remember George Floyd in silence and by wearing black clothing.
Tensions briefly heated up in the U.K.; mounted police officers at one point charging their horses past the entrance to Downing Street in an attempt to break up protests there. Reports say some protesters threw objects at police and one officer fell off his horse after running into a traffic light.
M. HOLMES: CNN's Nina dos Santos is in London and joins us with more.
Some fairly dramatic scenes.
What was the tone of the demonstrations?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Well, overall, it was peaceful up until a point when obviously the weather turned, it became quite thundery, there were heavy showers and crowds had started to amass at the end of the day outside Downing Street, which is heavily fortified in terms of its security.
But obviously it's a concern for the Metropolitan Police, the police force here in the U.K., that is the biggest police force and also the police force responsible for London. It has headquarters just on the other side of street basically from Downing Street.
And this is where obviously we saw the biggest tensions towards the end of the day. Thousands of people had converged upon the epicenter of the political heart of London, Westminster.
They amassed outside the doors of the official residence of the prime minister. And that was when you saw -- it has to be said, non-riot clad gear police officers tried to charge them disperse the crowds. They were mounted upon horseback.
But as I said it was very inclement weather conditions, tensions got heated and one of those police officers, a female police officer, fell from her horse and had to be taken to the hospital. We understand she's not in a serious condition.
But it is still symptomatic of how concerned people are during these types of times because remember this is also happening during a pandemic as well. This prompted the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, to come out and say these protests had been illegal and to remind people it is still unlawful in this country to have large gatherings.
And also we saw the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, who's in charge of the police force, as the home secretary reminded everybody she believed it was not the time to be protesting in large gatherings.
Obviously the U.K. Is very, very concerned about the second wave of coronavirus infections here, with that infection rate just perilously close to the number of 1.
For that reason senior cabinet ministers have been saying while they do sympathize with the reasons for these protests and, of course, they acknowledge people's right to protest, albeit it in large numbers, now, they believe, is not the time.
Having said that, though, Michael, there are going to be more protests taking someplace on the streets of London in few hours time and the weather, again, is set to be similar to yesterday. So the big question is will there be police again on mounted horseback?
Or will we see a little bit of a detente in terms of the types of scenes we saw yesterday?
M. HOLMES: Thanks for that. Nina dos Santos in London.
He is widely known but rarely seen. Now the artist Banksy is speaking out on Black Lives Matter, saying the system is failing people of color. Banksy posted this on his Instagram account in tribute to George Floyd.
The piece is composed of a framed black figure with a candle and flowers surrounding it and an American flag overhead having caught fire from the candle flame.
Banksy says racism is, quote, "a white problem," and, therefore, white people are responsible for fixing it.
Quick break. When we come back, the U.S. attorney general making some confusing statements about who ordered protesters removed from outside the White House last week. What he said when we come back.
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M. HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
The U.S. attorney general pushing back on reports that he gave the order to clear those peaceful protesters from outside the White House. Law enforcement using tear gas and rubber bullets and other things to clear the area before the D.C. curfew went into effect. It was well before.
The White House said the decision came from attorney general William Barr and that President Trump didn't know about it.
Well, that plan culminated with this: the photo-op of the president, standing outside a church, holding up a Bible. Kristen Holmes with more on all of this from the White House.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a reason Barr has to push back on that and that is because the White House put this squarely on the attorney general.
A senior administration official said that President Trump didn't even know there was a plan to empty out the streets, that it was entirely Barr's decision.
Now as you said, there is some pushback on that notion. In this interview, the attorney general saying that he didn't give the final word. I want to read to you what he said.
He said he would not be involved in giving tactical commands like that. So just to break it down, it does sound a little bit like splitting hairs in terms of, I told them I wanted it done but I didn't tell them that they actually had to do it.
However, he's not the first person to try and distance himself from this. This has been a shifting of blame that we've seen since last week.
And remember, the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, originally said that he didn't even know where they were going. Of course, he went back and corrected that, that he did know but he didn't know it was going to be a photo op.
M. HOLMES: Joining me now is CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd.
Always a pleasure to see you, my friend. You, when you worked in government, you helped design sanctions for the U.S. government to hold foreign governments accountable for harming their own people.
When you look at American streets today and particularly what we saw of military presence and the president's statements on potential use of military force, are you reminded of those days, of warning other governments not to do exactly that?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The truth is, if this was happening anywhere but on U.S. soil, we would be issuing strongly worded statements and really revealing a list of punitive actions we could take if this behavior continued.
You look at the militarization of U.S. streets in the name of security; you look at the attacks on press freedoms, the attacks on peaceful protesters, the lack of accountability overall for certain law enforcement professionals. And I can't name how many countries we issued statements of condemnation against for exactly this kind of behavior. And the fact of the matter is, that because the president is
overseeing if not directing these actions at home, he is undercutting the ability of our own personnel to do their jobs overseas.
You and I have spoken about the protests in Hong Kong, for example. The secretary of state issued a statement this morning, talking about those protests.
But at this point, because of what's happening here at home, the State Department is going to have a hard time not being laughed out of the room when they push other countries not to attack democratic freedoms. We can't have one standard for the United States and another standard, frankly, for the rest of the world.
M. HOLMES: Exactly. The other thing that's worrying is the number of, you know, who knows who they are, actually, and that's the whole point of the question. Let's just say security forces on the streets with no badge, no I.D. of any kind. They could be contractors, for all we know.
I was in Crimea in 2014, when Vladimir Putin's little green men came in and it's striking to see unidentified forces on U.S. streets. I know that's something you're writing an article on.
What did you make of that?
VINOGRAD: If we just look at Washington, D.C., we have a smorgasbord of security personnel. It's become an alphabet soup of acronyms when you look at military personnel as well as various federal and local law enforcement personnel as well.
As you mentioned, some of these law enforcement personnel are not clearly identifying themselves nor are they wearing badges. When asked who they work for, they either don't answer or give ambiguous answers, for example, just saying they work for the Department of Justice.
This presents a lot of very serious concerns. If a law enforcement professional doesn't identify himself or herself, a private citizen doesn't know whether to listen to them. That could create real problems for actual lawful arrests, questioning or searches.
It also creates direct security risks. We have armed militia, yes, trying to pervert these protests for personal gain. And when we have unidentified law enforcement personnel with large firearms near to or next to our militias, it becomes difficult to distinguish who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
And finally, the fact that these personnel are not clearly identifying themselves raises real risks for accountability.
If a law enforcement person, a professional, is not wearing a badge or clearly identifying themselves, that makes it harder to hold them accountable if they misuse force, engage in excessive force or some other unlawful action during the operation of their duties.
So it really puts downside pressure on the ability to hold law enforcement personnel accountable, if necessary.
M. HOLMES: It's the sort of thing I've seen in other counties, certainly not this one. It's worrying in many ways.
I want you to speak also to the number of senior military figures, who've split with Donald Trump -- Mattis and Kelly and numerous other generals.
What does that signify to you?
VINOGRAD: I think signifies that we are seeing a broadening range of dedicated public servants speak out against the president. General Mattis said it correctly. He views President Trump as a threat to the Constitution.
And we have to remember that these military leaders were apolitical during their careers. They swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. They all served under multiple presidents and did their duties without issuing public statements and without wearing politics on their sleeve. Their job was to serve their country.
The fact that they are speaking out, so many of them, with a similar message is really unprecedented. And it really speaks to the risk here. It speaks to the risk for the president's potential misuse of our military against peaceful protesters here in the United States and the risk he presents overseas as well.
The fact, again, that these are military personnel, not political appointees nor people that, you know, have really clear political agendas, speaks to the fact that this is an issue that is bringing really seasoned experts together and really speaks to the level of risk that they're seeing.
The question now becomes, who else speaks out and speaks up from across the political spectrum here in the United States.
VINOGRAD: And, of course, what impact, if any, that has on the election in November.
M. HOLMES: Yes, exactly. Samantha Vinograd, always a pleasure to have you on.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
M. HOLMES: Well, we're still just finding out how bad the coronavirus epidemic has been in the United Kingdom. Some say there could be a drastic jump in the number of people who have died. We will discuss that with our correspondent when we come back.
Also, several Latin American countries are in coronavirus crisis mode. But not every leader is taking it very seriously. We'll have that as well after the break.
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M. HOLMES (voice-over): The mayor of Seattle now urging demonstrators to get tested for COVID-19 after videos like this.
And in the hopes of preventing another spike in cases, the city of Atlanta is offering free coronavirus tests to protesters. There are now almost 400,000 coronavirus tests reported worldwide, almost 7 million cases.
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M. HOLMES: And throughout the pandemic many have been criticizing China's initial response starting with the U.S. president Donald Trump. Now Beijing saying in a new report that it immediately notified the World Health Organization of the outbreak.
The report adds that China shared the virus' genetic sequence and other important data and regularly gave the WHO and relevant countries information. Even then, there have been reports that the Chinese government is trying to control research linked to the coronavirus.
Brazil's health ministry is changing the way it shares important coronavirus data. On Saturday, it began its website showing just new cases and deaths from the past 24 hours, not cumulative totals. President Bolsonaro says the change will help the country, in his words, "focus on the moment."
M. HOLMES: The last time Brazil released total numbers publicly was Thursday, when it surpassed Italy in reported deaths. All of Latin America is right now suffering badly from COVID-19. Matt Rivers with that story.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a bad week for many countries in Latin America. In its hardest hit countries, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru, the combined case total now tops 1 million.
In Brazil, the crisis is horrific, roughly 650,000 cases and counting the death toll now third highest in the world, officially surpassing Italy and likely to overtake the United Kingdom soon.
But Brazil's leader remains unfazed; as people are dying, the president struck a now familiar note, criticizing lockdown measures.
"The poor are becoming miserable and the middle class are becoming poor," he says. "Everyone in Brazil is becoming the same."
His focus, the economy. The IMF estimates Brazil's economy will shrink by 5.3 percent by the end of the year and unemployment in the country could reach an all-time high.
In Mexico, meanwhile, the outbreak is only getting worse. Daily records in new deaths and cases were reported this week, the curve not flattening but spiking. And yet its president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was out traveling this week. As for fighting the virus he had nearly useless advice.
"Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't betray," he says. "That will help a lot in not getting the virus."
Mexico now has more than 110,000 cases and roughly 13,000 deaths. In one children's hospital in Jalisco State, there are 21 confirmed coronavirus cases, three of them newborns.
And finally, in Peru, grim sights, people collapsing in the streets, some dragged to hospitals by their family members, the less fortunate left to die. Experts are worried the situation will worsen, as the case total there tops 190,000.
Oxygen needed to keep people alive is in short supply. Desperate Peruvians have turned online or to an emerging black market to purchase oxygen tanks.
Countries across Latin America have begun to reopen their economies in various ways. But the WHO Is warning countries not to do so too fast. The agency says the transmission rate in Central and South America has not yet reached its peak -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
M. HOLMES: While the coronavirus infection rate has been slowing in the United Kingdom, the pandemic far from over there, Johns Hopkins University recording more than 40,000 deaths in the country and the number of new deaths has been slowly climbing over the last few days. Milena Veselinovic is in London at Downing Street and has more for us.
U.K. did face criticism for how it acted early in the pandemic and there's a dreadful milestone ahead.
MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Michael. We are expecting this awful number of 50,000 deaths to be officially announced on Tuesday. And it will certainly increase the scrutiny of this government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, the U.K. was slow to start widespread testing in the community. And some public health experts say this was a missed opportunity to control the virus. There are some elderly people who were sent home from hospital with coronavirus symptoms without getting a test and that's where this pandemic really exploded.
Also U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson was criticized for not imposing the lockdown soon enough in early March, when the virus was raging in Italy and Spain. The U.K. went ahead with two very high profile sporting events, a horse racing festival and a football match. They were attended by tens of thousands of people.
And once these restrictions were imposed, there were controversies along the way. But the government told the public to stay at home and only make essential journeys. But it later transpired the prime minister's top aide, Dominic Cummings, made a journey of 260 miles to his parents' home with his wife, who was having coronavirus symptoms at the time and his son because he had child care issues.
And the prime minister said that was OK, that he did nothing wrong.
Now the government says that they are dealing with the biggest crisis since the Second World War and they were successful in ensuring that the health care capacity was not breached.
But it's important to remember, in early March, the chief scientific adviser to the government said, if the U.K. had 20,000 deaths, that would have been a good outcome. But as we edge closer to this grim milestone of 50,000 deaths, questions will be raised why the U.K. suffered such a horrendous loss of life.
M. HOLMES: Yes, exactly.
What about right now?
M. HOLMES: The picture for the U.K., that all important R number, it's above 1 in some areas, right?
VESELINOVIC: That's right. And even more concerned, in the northwest of England, this number is estimated to be higher than 1, according to latest research by Public Health England and the University of Cambridge. Now the health secretary, Matt Hancock, addressed this and tried to
allay fears. He said according to the government's top advisory body which analyzes many studies and gives an overall view of the U.K., that R number is somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9.
He said that there are regional differences and then also said perhaps there could be a future of localized lockdowns. But certainly, a lot of questions and U.K. really not in a position where they want to be right now -- Michael.
M. HOLMES: Milena Veselinovic, in London, appreciate it, thank you, good to see you.
A dangerous storm is churning in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening the southern U.S. Coast. We'll find out where tropical storm Cristobal is headed. That's when we come back.
M. HOLMES: Just have a look at these incredible images of a large funnel cloud. This is in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday. A spokesperson for the city telling CNN the tornado touched down near downtown, actually damaged several homes and power lines.
There actually were reports of several tornadoes in Central Florida, the storms coming from the outer bands of tropical storm Cristobal which is churning away in the Gulf of Mexico.
And it is being felt all over the southern U.S. coast at the moment. Several parishes in Louisiana under evacuation orders as the tropical storm approaches. It has maximum sustained winds of about 50 miles an hour at the moment. It is expected to strengthen as it moves north and picking up steam over the water as usual.
Officials say parts of Louisiana, most of Florida could get anywhere from 6-10 inches of rain. The updated track of the storm has it moving northward through Sunday morning and then gradually turning northwest in the afternoon.
The Black Lives Matter movement has made such an impression, it's even being noticed in outer space. New satellite images from Planet Labs clearly show the bright yellow Black Lives Matter message on the street in Washington leading to the White House -- that's not it. That's the storm. We'll try to find the image.
Are we going to have it?
We'll bring it to you later.
The mayor actually had that sign painted after peaceful protesters were -- there it is -- forcibly moved away on Monday so U.S. President Trump could have a photo op near a nearby church. That from outer space. Pretty cool. And you got another look at Cristobal as well.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. It had been going so well until then. I'm Michael Holmes. My colleague, Natalie Allen, will improve things in just a little bit with more news. You're watching CNN.