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George Floyd Memorial Today, Funeral Tomorrow In Houston; New York City Begins Phase One Reopening Today. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.


Soon, ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin charged with second- degree murder in the killing of George Floyd will face a judge for the first time. That is set to happen at the same time a public memorial is taking place in George Floyd's hometown of Houston. After two weeks of protests nationwide following Floyd's death, a historic move now by the Minneapolis City Council.

HARLOW: That's right. Over the weekend, voting to defund and also dismantle the city's police department and to replace it with a new system of public safety. What would that actually look like? Can they do it? We'll talk about what that change would look like in just a moment.

In the wake of all of this, there is a brand-new CNN poll this morning, and it shows troubling numbers for the presidents on his handling of the protest in the wake of George Floyd's death and also on the coronavirus pandemic and his head-to-head matchup on Joe Biden, who is gaining a national lead.

Let's begin this hour though with our colleague, Omar Jimenez. He joins us in Houston. Walk us through what we will see and hear today at the memorial.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy and Jim, it would be just around noon local time through 6:00 P.M., that the public will have a chance to say their last goodbye to George Floyd inside the Fountain of Praise Church behind me. They are already loading flowers in. And due to social distancing rules, people will go in 15 at a time is the max, as we understand, wearing masks and gloves, and they will spend no longer than ten minutes in their to pay their final respects. This is the public's last chance to say goodbye in what has been a series of good-byes so far.

And while the entire world is reflecting on a day like this, so too, if not more than ever, Houston. This is a place where he grew up. And when you speak to people he grew up with, like Stephen Jackson, a friend and former NBA player, here is what he had to say about what it means to the City of Houston.


STEPHEN JACKSON, FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: I've been so focused on getting judgment and this newfound leadership role that fell in my lap, but it's going to be -- it's a crazy day for the city. I mean, you just don't feel it in the neighborhood where he grew up at because I've been there are at the last few days. But the city is feeling this type of wind (ph). And they are ready to put him to rest, put him to rest the right way.


JIMENEZ: And also happening today, Joe Biden is expected to visit here in Houston to visit privately with the family, that instead of attending funeral service set for tomorrow. We are told they didn't want their security presence to disrupt anything there. But they will be recording a video message for that service, a service that is expected to be private with some invited guests as well where we do expect Floyd to be buried next to his mother. Poppy, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez in Houston, thanks very much.

CNN's Josh Campbell, he's in Minneapolis. So, Josh, it's early in the legal proceedings involving the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, but what do we expect to happen as he faces a judge for the first time today?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. In just a couple hours time, we'll see the first appearance of former Officer Derek Chauvin. He will be appearing by video link to a judge in the courtroom behind me. We'll be there in court. And, obviously, we know based on the charges that he is charged with second-degree murder, as well as third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

And what we're waiting to see is whether his defense attorney will signal what their strategy is going to be. We know that when we're in court for the hearing of the other three officers as their attorneys attempted to attack the government's case, we began to see what their strategy was, and that was largely for two of the officers to blame Chauvin and his seniority, saying that he was largely responsible for this incident.

We'll be waiting to hear again what Chauvin's strategy might be. That will be here in just a couple of hours time. Guys?

HARLOW: Josh, before you go, can you talk, because you have such expertise on this about what it means that there was a veto-proof majority vote over the weekend to completely disband the Minneapolis Police Department? Can it legally happen? What would it be replaced with? And what happens next?

CAMPBELL: Yes, this move is causing a lot of questions. Now, I talked to the city council president yesterday and she told me that she has nine members of the city council that are now prepared to vote to dismantle the city's police department. And in her words, she told us that she doesn't believe that the police department is effectively serving the community. Let's listen to what she said.


LISA BENDER, PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: The system isn't working for too many of our neighbors for too long.


Our reform efforts have failed, and we have done many, many attempts at reform and new leadership at the department and many things, and we still see this tragic death.

And so I think the wake-up of our community is what's driving the city council's announcement yesterday.


CAMPBELL: Now, that was her speaking this morning also to CNN's New Day. And as I mentioned, there are a lot of questions being raised about this decision. Typically, the police department falls under the purview of the mayor. We've heard from the mayor. He is not in favor of disbanding the police department. But the city council president says that she believes that they have a lot of latitude because this department is under investigation by the Human Rights Commission.

I think, bottom line, guys, this is going to end up in the courts. We'll have to wait and see whether or not they're actually effective at dismantling and rebuilding the police department. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: So unprecedented and so important to watch. Josh, thanks very, very much.

Let's talk more about this with our Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams.

Elliot, we'll get to that in a moment in terms of potentially disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department, but let's talk first about today and the first appearance in court before a judge of ex- Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. In the context of the fact that we've heard at least partial defenses from his three fellow officers, some of them pointing the blame at him. Will we hear some of his defense today?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We might. Now, it's interesting. Sort of as Josh had said, we heard some of that last week.

Now, remember, under the Constitution, defendants never have to say anything in court. You know term, you have the right to remain silent. Well, that also applies at trial. What these early hearings give defendants a chance to do is sort of tease what arguments they are going to put out into the record.

And so, for instance, what we might hear him says if he doesn't testify -- what everyone is saying is this is a really a good chance for P.R. on the part of Detective Chauvin's lawyers, and so nothing will be challenged here.

He could say, you know, nothing will be credibly -- everything will be credibly reported by reporters afterward, far more credibly than if he'd stepped outside and done a press conference. And so, yes, we might see some of that today.

And I think what it might be if he is to go there, is to say, look, it's the fog of war, in the heat of the moment, I'm an officer, my job is very hard, and, certainly, this death was a tragedy. But this is sort of what happens to officers when faced in stressful positions.

Now, look, that's not a very compelling argument to you or me because we saw that video. But, again, what he's trying to do is get into the heads of a potential jurors. People are watching the news. And the people who are going to pick this jury in Minneapolis, you're just trying to sort of -- use the word, take them (ph), but sort (INAUDIBLE) and so get them to start viewing his case a little bit more favorably.

SCIUTTO: What can Congress do to make a difference here? You have legislation introduced this morning in the House. I mean, among the measures, one sponsored that would make it illegal to use a chokehold.

And as I ask this question, Elliot, just so you're aware and our viewers, this is the hearse of George Floyd arriving in Houston for the last public memorial for George Floyd, Houston his hometown. That's why it's taking place there. Of course, his death occurred in Minneapolis.

We were told today, we learned that the former vice president, Joe Biden, will meet with Floyd's family today privately, not take part in a larger service there because the family was concerned that Biden's security detail might cause some problems, get in the way of the broader celebration of his life here. We're going to continue to follow that service as it takes place today.

But, Elliot, back to charges, right, because folks watching this might say to themselves, okay, I've seen incidents like this before and I've heard a lot of talk, but I haven't seen much change. Legally, is it Congress that needs to take action, wait for action in the courts? Where do you see substantive change taking place?

WILLIAMS: Well, okay, the big picture answer to your question is that society needs to change. Biases need to change. Police are just one reflection of that on a day-to-day level, and they're armed. But we just need to address implicit bias and the biases we frankly all hold, even black people, against other black people before any of this can be fixed.

Now, to the legal question, a lot of the doctrines that people are talking, like qualified immunity, we've even talked about that concept on this show before, comes from the courts. And under our system of separation of powers, Congress can just legislate around that. So Congress can pass a bill limiting or eliminating qualified immunity. Congress can create a national misconduct registry. Congress can ban and regard as unlawful, no-knock warrants, like sort of where officers can just go and enter someone's homes. They can make lynching a hate crime.

All of these things can be done by Congress and as a far more important and far more immediate than waiting for courts to address them.


HARLOW: On the issue of qualified immunity that Jim and I are particularly interested in, and, you know, we talked a lot about on the program, Joey Jackson said to us last hour, yes, yes, yes, but that only deals with civil cases when police officers are sued. It wouldn't impact a criminal trial. Is the that the case?

WILLIAMS: That is true. Again, qualified immunity applies in federal civil rights suits, so you would take it up. But, again, that's a big deal because, you know, what qualified immunity does is just almost bar suits against police officers for their conduct. I mean, that's a little bit of a simplification of it, but it would be a big deal.

But, again what, we need and frankly you're seeing some of this in Minneapolis is a rethinking of how we approach law enforcement and policing and that's kind of reflected in the Minneapolis' decision by the city council recently.

SCIUTTO: Elliot Williams, always good to have you on. Thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, as you know, a few places in the world have been hit harder by coronavirus than New York City. Today, the city, after months of lockdown, taking its first tentative steps towards reopening.

HARLOW: And in minutes, House and Senate Democrats will push their plan to stop police brutality and start recording patterns of misuse of force. You just heard Elliot talk about that. We'll bring their remarks live.

And following nearly two weeks of nationwide protests, a new CNN poll finds a growing majority of Americans feel that racism is a significant problem in this country, and it also shows that it could hurt the president in November.



HARLOW: After a 78-day shutdown, New York City is entering phase one of reopening, and it begins today. The city is hitting all of the necessary benchmarks to start to reopen after more than 200,000 people here were infected and more than 21,000 deaths in New York City alone.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Alexandra Field joining us from New York. So, Alexandra I think it's safe to call these baby steps in terms of reopening. What is open as of today? ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, baby steps, first steps, but still incredibly significant if you think about all that New York City has gone through in the last 100 days since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed here in the city.

So the signs of life that we're seeing out here on the street this morning, well, some 400,000 people who are expected to head back to work, a couple hundred thousand people expected to possibly take mass public transportation, the busses, the subways, which are still being cleaned overnight but are open to riders during the day. No, you can't really maintain social distance on the subways but ,asks are being handed out for people who don't have them.

We're seeing new retail stores opening up. They'll be doing curbside pickup or some quick in-store pickup. Those are stores that have been closed down for months now. We're also seeing construction workers back at it, wholesale trade jobs back at it and manufacturing back on line.

So, significant steps but certainly not fully back but this is because health data has all been moving in the right direction. Officials saying we can now start the phase one of opening, joining the rest of the state, which has already started to reopen well in advance of New York. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: And, Alex, as we get this, which is good news for a lot of people in the city, data also that is just horrifying in terms of showing the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color, double the number of blacks and Latinos in New York City died from it than New York City than whites.

FIELD: Twice as many black and Latinos than whites here in New York and we have for the course of this pandemic been talking about the disproportionate effect of coronavirus on people of color across the country.

And this is certainly something that is fueling a lot of what we've been hearing out here on the streets over the past week as you've seen thousands of demonstrators --

HARLOW: Alex, I'm so sorry, sorry to interrupt. Let's go to Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, in Emancipation Hall setting a moment, eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of the life of George Floyd.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): -- aptly named for those who built the Capitol sadly.

Last summer, a number of us under the leadership Karen Bass went to Ghana to observe the 400th anniversary of the first slaves coming across the Atlantic, that tragedy, that horror of history, event, slavery in our own country and then all of the consequences of that.

We are here to observe that pain. We are here to respect the actions of the American people to speak out against that, specifically manifested in police brutality. We are here to honor George Floyd. In a moment, we will have a moment of silence, actually eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of George Floyd and so many others who lost their lives or were abused by police brutality.

Before that, I want to yield to the distinguished leader of the Senate, Mr. Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, thank you, Madam Speaker, and thank you for this profound and important moment before we go forward with our strong and comprehensive legislation.

Now, Senate Democrats held a similar moment of silence last week where we stood for eight minutes and 46 seconds to mark the horrible death of George Floyd.


To every one of us, it was excruciating. It seemed an unbearably long amount of time, felt -- it felt so painful to get even an inkling of how this man and so many other black Americans have suffered for so long.

Every American --

SCIUTTO: You see Chuck Schumer there, the Senate minority leader, they are preparing Democrats in Emancipation Hall to hold a moment of silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds the amount of time that George Floyd had a knee on his neck before he died under the knee of Derek Chauvin.

Today, we will continue to follow that. But joining us now for more on the outbreak and all news regarding the outbreak, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, always good to have you on.

New data today, this is a study published in the journal, Nature, that says that were it not for nationwide stay-at-home orders, that there would be 60 million more coronavirus infections here in the U.S. And I wonder -- listen, these are models, and you always have to take models with, if not, a grain of salt just understanding that they are projections, not hard fact, but do you find that number credible? And if you do, are you concerned that as nation reopens but also as you see nationwide protests that some of those gains will be lost?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think these are credible numbers, first of all, Jim. I mean, you know, there's going to be all sorts of studies out there that look at this sort of thing, but we know this is a very contagious virus.

Everyone is becoming familiar with these terms, but the R naught, which is basically the idea of how many people with one person spread it to unmitigated, if there was no sort of mitigation measures in place, they said between two and three people.

If you start to carry that out several cycles, that means one individual could start spreading this to thousand people. And if you start amplify that around the country, you see where they say 60 million people may have been infected by this.

If you also say, well, look, there's a 1 percent to 2 percent, we don't know the true mortality rate, but 1 to 2 percent, you can see why people thought that maybe a million people could potentially die from this in the United States alone. So, again, there's going to be all sorts of different analyses here.

I do worry though, and I think it goes without saying, as more people start to aggregate, as you see the country start reopen, the numbers will go up. It is a different sort of reopening though, right? I mean, we think of it open or closed, open.

You know, I see a lot of people even in my own community, they are out and about more, but many people are maintaining some physical distance which we know can reduce transmission six-fold. We know people are more likely to be wearing masks, which can also reduce transmission six-fold. These things make a difference. The numbers will go up but I think not nearly as much as they otherwise would.

HARLOW: Sanjay, stand by if you could just for a moment. We want to take our viewers back to Emancipation Hall, where members of Congress, Senate and House Democrats honoring eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in remembrance of George Floyd.

These images of members of the House and Senate, Senate Democrats, House Democrats, kneeling there in Emancipation Hall, of course, named for the slaves who helped build and construct the Capitol, honoring George Floyd and his life and the eight minutes and 46 seconds that Officer Chauvin's Knee was on his neck.

We'll be right back.



HARLOW: At any moment now, Democrats are set to unveil their platform to try to reform policing across the country. Included in this expansive proposal from the House and the Senate, a federal ban on chokeholds being used by police and reforms to qualified immunity that largely protects police officers in court.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Manu Raju, he's on Capitol Hill this morning.

So, Manu, what else is in this bill, and, crucially, does it is have any shot in the Republican-controlled Senate?


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, it does not. This is an expansive measure that Democrats do.