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Thousands Attend George Floyd's Public Visitation In Houston; CNN Poll Shows Trump's Approval Falls To 38 Percent Amid Pandemic, Protests; New York City Reopens Today After Months Of Grief. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 13:00   ET



ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seems like the players and owners are still far apart in trying to get a deal done. They said originally they wanted to try to start the season July 4th or that weekend. It doesn't seem like that's going to be realistic at this point.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANHOR: Yes, at this point. Good to see you. Thank you, Andy.

And thank you all so much for joining us. Brianna Keilar continues our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar and I want to welcome viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

The public visitation for George Floyd has just begun in hometown of Houston, where the city is expecting thousands of mourners to pay their respects to the unarmed black man who was killed at the hands of police.

His death exactly two weeks ago today has sparked nationwide protests and calls for change in police departments around the country.

CNN's Sara Sidner is at the memorial and she joins us now. Sara, several people from the Floyd family are expected to be there. Tell us who else is attending.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Floyd family, a heavy burden going to three public memorials trying to help people get through their own grief and then having to deal with their own grief in a private memorial that will happen on Tuesday.

But we are seeing hundreds of people already showing up at the church in the middle of oppressive heat here in Houston as is normal in during the summer time. We are watching families, a lot of families with children come in here saying their final goodbyes to George Floyd. This is his -- he's a hometown boy from here and a lot of people wanted to come and not only sort of give their condolences but recognize what his life has meant for the entire country.

They are seeing in their minds change and they're hoping it's going to bring change that they have never seen before. They can feel a difference that he has already made, unfortunately, because of his death and how he died.

I do want to mention to you, I want to take you inside the church where you're seeing mourners one by one coming into the church. Now, because of coronavirus, this is a very different scenario than you would normally see for a final goodbye.

There are about 3,000 people can fit into this church but the way they have done it to keep people in a more self distanced situation is they have one by one, let about 15 people at a time come into the church, they are allowed to go up to the casket, not too terribly close, they pray and then move on.

And you will also notice that as they're come into the church, their temperatures are checked and they are asked whether or not they have any symptoms and you also see that people are wearing masks as they walk in.

I did manage to have a conversation now showing you the shot that Michael Humphreys (ph), our truck operator, is showing you from above the church and the hundreds of people that are here waiting to get in. There are a lot of families.

And I was able to talk to one of the families. It was a mother and her 14-year-old son, a black woman and her young black child. And I talked to them about what this meant to them. They said, look, we just want to come here to show our respect to this man who has really brought out again in this country some of the difficulties that it means to be black in America and the difficulties between the relationship with police.

What we want to say is we want people to know that we are still going through that and that we want Americans to understand the pain that the black community has been through. Her 14-year-old son said, I'm afraid to go outside now. And I said, because of coronavirus or because of something else? He says, no, because after seeing that video, I know that could be me, and he's 14 years old.

These are lessons being learned over and over and over again and the people that are here want it to stop. They simply want it to stop.

We also hear that the governor is going to be speaking shortly. The mayor is here and talking to folks, as well. This is bringing out all of the top brass but it is also bringing out the everyday man who just wants to say goodbye and thank you to George Floyd and his family. Brianna?

KEILAR: Sara, thank you so much. We really appreciate that report from Houston.

And also breaking this afternoon, the fired senior police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes will make a first court appearance this hour. Derek Chauvin's charges were upgraded to second- degree murder and manslaughter. CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell is outside of the courthouse there. And, Josh, tell us what we're expecting from this hearing today.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good afternoon, Brianna. I'll be heading in there in just a few moments. We're are expected to get our first look at this fired police officer.

Now, he will be appearing via video link to one of the courtrooms behind facing those second-degree murder charges, as well as third- degree and then manslaughter. And what we're waiting to see is whether or not we get any indication from his attorney on what his defense strategy will be.

We expect this hearing to be very short, bail hearing. But, again, we want to know what that strategy is, because just last week when were in the court for the first appearance of the three other officers that were involved, at least two of those officers, their attorneys were actually pointing to Chauvin and saying that he was the senior officer, he was responsible for Floyd's death.


So we're waiting to hear that.

Of course, this prosecution here in its early stages, but as this happens, we're learning now also that the Minneapolis City Council is moving for dramatic reform for this police department. I spoke to the president of the city council who says they want to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new public safety model.

Now, the mayor of Minneapolis not appearing to be on the same page as the city council. He was asked whether he would defund the police and said that, no, he's not going to abolish the police department. He was in favor of reform.

And he's not alone. Just this weekend, the chair of the congressional black caucus, Representative Karen Bass, spoke with our own Jake Tapper and weighed in on the idea of defunding the police in her view. Let's listen.


REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): You know what I think is really needed and I think that part of the movement around defunding is really about how we spend resources in our country and I think far more resources need to be spent in communities to address the number of problems.

Now, I don't believe that you should disband police departments but I do think that in cities, in states, we need to look at how we are spending the resources and invest more in our communities.


CAMPBELL: Now, that is the debate that is being played out across the nation, how far do you go? Do you defund police? Do you dismantle them? Do you reform them? A lot of unanswered questions here in Minneapolis about just how far the city council will go.

But, again, a busy day mot only on that front where the city council is looking for wholesale change but the officer that at the center of this controversy, Brianna, he will have his appearance behind us. And we hope to get more on all of those fronts and we'll get those back to you. Brianna?

KEILAR: Great, Josh. We'll be watching with you.

I want to ask you a question about defunding the police, because it seems that we spoke last week with the owner of Cup Foods, the store in front of which George Floyd died. And they said they're implementing where, essentially, if it's a non-violent concern that they have, they're not calling the police, because they feel like the problem that they need dealt with is actually going to be kind of eclipsed by the force that might come in from the police.

There does seem to be a demand from this when you have store owners, you know, at least anecdotally saying we may not call the police.

CAMPBELL: Yes. And that's what the city council president here was trying to get at, that not only are there people here in certain communities that are distrustful of the police department and the protection that they expect, but also, she said they looked at the data of 911 calls and most of the calls for service were not actually violent crimes in progress.

It was more for those types of issues to that could be handled perhaps by mental health providers or emergency medical technicians, that kind of thing. So they're trying to look for a different model that the public will actually trust.

Of course, the question is for those who are saying, let's abolish the police, what do you do about crime? Murders are not going to stop. You're going to see violent crimes and you're going to need some type of force that would help protect the public. But, again, those are all the unanswered questions that we don't have yet here from the city council, where they're saying they want to dismantle the police.

Right now, it's an idea, Brianna. We haven't yet seen a plan about what that would look like in the long run. Brianna?

KEILAR: Josh Campbell in Minneapolis, thank you so much.

An angry white man confronts a group of Black Lives Matter protesters, see what happened. And I'll be speaking with the African-American woman who stared him down.

Plus, despite the history on race, President Trump is considering a speech on race as his approval rate falls 7 percent over the last month.

And as coronavirus cases rise in several states across America, a new warning from health experts today, why they're worried that President Trump will release a vaccine too quickly to help his campaign.

This is CNN's special coverage.



KEILAR: President Trump is facing a 7-point drop in his job approval amid the George Floyd protests and the coronavirus pandemic. Brand-new CNN polling shows only 38 percent of Americans now say they approve of the job that Trump is doing overall while 57 percent, more than half of Americans, say they disapprove.

On the issue of race relations, a majority of Americans, 63 percent, disapprove of how the president is handling the issue. And when asked about their choice for president, 55 percent of registered voters say Joe Biden versus 41 percent for President Trump.

CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel has some new reporting of President Trump's reaction to these polling numbers. Tell us what your sources are telling you, Jamie.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Guess what? It isn't good and you don't have to go to sources on this, Brianna. Just look at his Twitter feed this morning. The first thing he said, he called the polls fake.

So, look, those numbers are truly -- polls are a snapshot in time so it can change. But right now, those numbers are a disaster for him. A former senior administration official said to me, when they saw the poll numbers, losing is an existential threat to Donald Trump. So he is undoubtedly not happy, to put it mildly.

One other thing about those numbers, I talked to a senior Republican official on Capitol Hill and that person said to me that, in their opinion, they think the Senate really is in play.


The source said, we could lose the Senate. They are very concerned that moderates, independents when they come to the polls, they're just not going to vote for Republicans down ballot.

So it's a concern for the White House, it's a concern for the party, Brianna.

KEILAR: And tell us what you have learned because it's a real possibility that we could see a spike in coronavirus numbers, and it appears the president is seeing some opportunity about where to attribute that.

GANGEL: So one thing we know about Donald Trump, he likes to blame other people. So I think we have to preface this by saying there is concern that the protests are going to cause a spike in numbers. We don't know yet what that's going to be or how -- what those numbers are going to be like. But the protests are happening, and also what else is happening? These states are opening up. And we've already seen spikes in some states as things open up.

Donald Trump wants one thing. He wants the economy back. He wants jobs back. And so if the numbers go up, the sources I'm talking to say, just wait, it's -- you know, he's going to blame it on the protests because that serves his purpose. He wants the economy open. That is how he gets to election day.

KEILAR: Look, you can see how there could be a spike because you have so many people gathered, but the truth is there's also this opening of the economy where you see people outside at restaurants, you see people closer together. There is more traffic on the street. You know that more people are going to work. So we'll how this shakes out. Jamie Gangel, thank you for your great reporting.

And we're also learning that the White House is now considering a plan for President Trump to address the nation on race and national unity.

Joining me now is Errin Haines, Editor at Large for the 19th. Errin, thank you for joining us to talk about this. And I wonder what you think given the majority of Americans in this new poll do not approve of the president's handling of race relations. And, I mean, just given what you see him talking about in his tweets, it's so inflammatory. What do you think about this plan for a speech on race?

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE 19th: I think it would definitely be a departure from the message that many African-Americans have heard from this president in the past four years and even as a candidate.

If you remember, in 2016, you know, President Trump was asking African-Americans what the hell do you have to lose, even as he was calling for more law and order, which is a very specific message, I think, to black voters in particular. They know that message means something very different for their communities than it tends to mean for the rest of the country.

And so, once again, In 2018, and I think even in 2020, we have seen that the president is willing to go to a racial playbook to ignite and excite and invoke enthusiasm among his base. I don't think that that does much to excite or bring black voters over to his side as he seeks to win re-election.

And it is really -- the president's message has been such a contrast to Vice President Biden, who has been someone who has been empathetic in this moment of racial unrest, who has laid out a plan for what he plans to do for black America and that something frankly that black voters and black Americans have not heard enough from this incumbent president.

He was asked just last week what his response was going to be to black folks in terms of the coronavirus and their economic recovery as the country reopens and his answer to that was, you know, the economy is going to reopen and the numbers are going to go up. What he said from this speech, I think, would certainly -- if it's going to be a message of unity, I don't think that that's a message that most black people feel like they have heard from this president in the past four years.

KEILAR: So that would make ask if it's not something that could convince black Americans, is there another audience that he's trying to appeal to by at least going through the motions of reaching out to the black community?

HAINES: Well, I think that when he does speak to issues of race, a lot of his base hears the message that he has and that reassures them that -- against messages of what the president says and some of his policies are racist. It's a counter argument to that for his voters but that is not something that particularly resonates with black voters when they hear him speaking to issues of race.

It's not that the president hasn't spoken about race.


He has spoken about race quite a bit in these past four years. But in terms of a message that is unifying, I don't think that that is what voters of color here, but I think that it does work to really reassure his base in a lot of ways that he is speaking to race in a way that a lot of them may identify with.

KEILAR: The president, Erin, has largely declined to engage with the press since these protests escalated last weekend. He hasn't been answering questions. He's done only a couple of what the White House may bill as a press conference is, but they're really just statements. He has done some appearances with conservative outlets, one of which included his former press secretary.

What do you make of that strategy and what it says about, I guess, where he is?

HAINES: Well, I think what it says is that he is not responding to our national moment of reckoning around the issue of race, you know? He's invoked George Floyd. I know that he's reached out to the family of George Floyd. But really speaking to black Americans collectively is not really something that has happened.

In fact, what we have seen is him doubling down on this message of law and order with little empathy for or identification with people who are peacefully protesting, right, even as he was able to embrace white protesters largely who were calling for the country to reopen in the midst of this pandemic.

But it's the pandemic of systemic racism that black voters and black Americans are looking to hear from him on in this moment and, frankly, that they just have not gotten much of a response from him on that issue.

KEILAR: Errin, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Errin Haines at Editor at Large of the 19th. A retired Navy captain accidentally livestreamed a conversation with his wife during which they both used racial slurs derogatory language. Hear his response now that it's gone viral.

Plus, Ivanka Trump blames cancel culture after she is dropped as a commencement speaker over the administration's protest response.

And two weeks after Memorial Day, many states are seeing a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases as New York City reopens.



KEILAR: According to a CNN analysis, four states, California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, are outpacing New York State in the their averages of daily new coronavirus cases. California, on average, saw the most new cases per day, more than 2,000 over the week that ended June 7th.

New York, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, has seen a decrease in the amount of cases. That's good news as New York City begins phase one of reopening.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo kicked off this morning with a ride on the subway as the MTA resumed its regular weekday service.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in New York City for us. Tell us, Alexandra, what this phase one looks like.


New York is nothing like the city it was 100 days ago but this is where we start to get back to where we were. Some 400,000 workers back on the job today across sectors like construction, wholesale trade, manufacturing and retail.

So for the first time, we are seeing more stores open. They are only open for curbside pickup or some in-store pickup, so it's a softer and a slower start that maybe some New Yorkers would want. But, certainly, this is well ahead of what many people predicted would be the place that we would find ourselves in right now in early June.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is saying it's because of the hard work of people and New York State's governor, Andrew Cuomo, is celebrating this as a major achievement for all New Yorkers. Listen to this.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Se said thank you yesterday. We lit up all the city and state landmarks with colors of the state to say thank you, because we're not out of the woods but we are on the other side, certainly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FIELD: On the other side, perhaps the most encouraging words that New Yorkers can hear.

So how do you keep making progress? Well, the prediction is that we won't enter phase two of reopening in New York City before July but it really depends on what people do right now.

Key to this is how much testing we see across the city. The goal is 35,000 tests a day and we understand there's some 15 test sites across the city that will prioritize the thousands of protesters and demonstrators that we have seen in the streets for these last two weeks, Brianna.

Of course, officials remain concerned about controlling any possible spike that could have resulted from those large-scale demonstrations.

KEILAR: Yes, they certainly do. Alexandra Field, thank you for that report from New York.

And we're back now to our breaking news. Moments from now, the fired officer that kneeled on George Floyd's neck will make his first court appearance on the second-degree murder charge. Will we see perhaps his early defense?

Plus, we're also just learning the identity of the driver who rammed protesters in Virginia this weekend.


It was a KKK member, and we'll have more on that.