Return to Transcripts main page


Protests Call for Change on 13th Day of Protests; Trump Administration Officials Say No Systemic Racism in U.S. Policing; White House Considering Plan for Trump to Address Nation; Gen. Colin Powell Says He's Voting for Democrat Joe Biden; Minneapolis Mayor Booed After Refusing to Defund Police; Demonstrations Spread to More Cities Worldwide; Thousands March in Solidarity in London; . Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 04:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of protesters pour into the streets all across the United States calling for reform and justice. Also this hour --


GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have a Constitution and we have to follow that Constitution and the President's drifted away from it.


ALLEN: President Trump facing pressure for his handling of the Black Lives Matter protests.

And New York is on track to reopen for businesses for the first time in months. Medical experts say coronavirus cases there are going down.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. We appreciate you joining us. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

From small towns to big cities, protesters across the U.S. turned out for a 13th straight day calling for change and speaking out against racism and police brutality.


CROWD CHANTS: Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.


ALLEN: Crowds there marching in New York and chanting black lives matter. New York was among several cities to see their curfews lifted after several days of peaceful demonstrations. Now to Los Angeles. Protesters packed the streets as demonstrators

again demanded justice for the death of George Floyd. A similar call in New Jersey where hundreds of protesters as you see here took a knee in his memory.

And demonstrators in Raleigh, North Carolina, are sending a clear message, end racism now. Volunteers painted the words in giant letters on a downtown street.

Well, President Trump is said to be considering whether to address the nation on the subject of race and unity amid Republican worries about his response to the protests. We'll get to that in a moment. But despite nearly two weeks of demonstrations over police brutality, several Trump administration officials insist there is no systemic racism problem in U.S. law enforcement.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think there's racism in the United States still, but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist. I understand the distrust, however, of the African-American community given the history in this country.

CHAD WOLF, ACTING U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY : I do in the think that we have a systemic racism problem with law enforcement officers across this country. Do I think acknowledge that there are some law enforcement officers that abuse their job? Yes. And again, we need to hold those accountable.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you believe, Mr. Secretary, there is systemic racism in American police forces?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPARTMENT U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: No, there's not. There are individuals who are racist. They're a small number. And I would suggest that a bigger problem that can be filtered and trained for is simply bullying. If you listen to the audio and the video and -- of the police officer on Mr. Floyd's back, you listen to the banter, that was not professional. That was not respectful even if nothing bad had come out of it for Mr. Floyd instead of the tragedy that happened.


ALLEN: Well, here's CNN's Kristen Holmes with details on Mr. Trump's possible national address along with Republican concerns that the President could be losing control of the narrative.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big question is what is the messaging going to be moving forward? Now we first got wind of this speech early on Sunday when Secretary Ben Carson was interviewed by Jake Tapper and was really pressed on President Trump's response to the killing of George Floyd. In particular to the President's retweeting of a post that attacked Floyd's character. Listen to what Carson had to say. BEN CARSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: I believe you're going to be hearing from the President this week on this topic in some detail. And I would ask you maybe to reserve judgment until after that time.

What will help the nation heal is if we will engage in dialogue together. Let's not make the solution be a Democrat solution or Republican solution, let's make it be an American solution.

HOLMES: Now since then a senior administration official has confirmed that the speech is being battered around to both my colleagues Sarah Westwood and I.


But the big caveat here is same one that we talk about all the time with this administration which is it ultimately comes down to President Trump and the message that he wants to send. And it's unclear still if that message is one of unity, if he wants to talk about the tensions we saw over the weekend. A source close to the President, close to the White House told me that the President actually came out of this weekend feeling bullish. He was really lifted up by those job numbers that we saw on Friday. He was also very happy with how peaceful the protests were. He believed according to this source that that is direct correlation to his message of law and order because he was dominating the streets with all of those law enforcement officers, that that's why these protests were peaceful.

So we're going to hear him talking about that as well as this message we heard from protesters on defunding the police. As we saw all day on Sunday, President Trump continues to try to link that to Joe Biden. And many officials close to the President believe that this is a good idea. They believe this will help them get moderate voters who might not want to go that far.

Reporting from the White House, Kristin Holmes, CNN.


ALLEN: One prominent U.S. Republican had harsh criticism for President Trump Sunday. Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell called Mr. Trump dishonest. He also said Trump had, quote, drifted away from the constitution. But Powell expressed optimism that U.S. citizens would soon hold Trump accountable.


POWELL: Insulting anybody who dared to speak against him, and that is dangerous for our democracy, it is dangerous for our country. And I think what we're seeing now those most massive protest movements I have ever seen in my life. I think this suggests that the country is getting wise to this and we're not going to put up with it anymore.


ALLEN: Democrat Joe Biden will be getting Powell's vote in November. Another detail revealed by the longtime Republican in that interview on CNN Sunday. Polls show the former Vice President has the support of a majority of Americans. An average of live interview polls has him at 51 percent support, a level never reached by the 2016 Democratic nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Biden plans to meet privately over the coming hours with George Floyd's family in Houston ahead of Mr. Floyd's funeral.

U.S. House Democrats are set to introduce a bill to combat police brutality and racial injustice in the coming hours. CNN has learned it would make it easier to sue police for bad behavior, establish a national misconduct registry so that fired officers can't go get a job elsewhere. They would also ban chock holds.

The National Guard is starting to withdraw from Washington on President Trump's orders. It follows days of peaceful protests in the U.S. capitol. Our Pete Muntean has the latest.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This group in front of the White House is thin, but it doesn't make their message any less poignant. These are the protesters left in the newly-coined Black Lives Matter Plaza. At times, this group has been quite loud, and we know from our crew on the White House lawn that their chants could be heard from the White House and that President Trump was home on Sunday.

I just want to show you a bit more of a quiet and somber moment from earlier on Sunday, where protesters marched down from Dupont Circle in the heart of Washington, D.C., about eight-tenths of a mile, laid down in the middle of the street, put their arms behind their backs and chanted softly, I can't breathe for eight minutes in honor of George Floyd.

We know this is not the only group that has been marching here today. A group of Evangelicals marched down Pennsylvania Avenue with them. Utah Senator Mitt Romney may be the highest-ranking member of the GOP to join this Black Lives Matter movement, and here's what he had to say.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): A way to end violence and brutality and to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.

MUNTEAN: This group also marched two miles from here to the U.S. Capitol. The United States Senate is in session on Monday. The House is meeting remotely, and protesters I've been talking to say meaningful reform also needs to come from lawmakers.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Former U.S. President Barack Obama is sharing his thoughts on the ongoing demonstrations with graduating students. He spoke at a virtual commencement event telling the class of 2020 they have the power to create a new normal.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In a lot of ways the pandemic just brought into focus problems that have been growing for a very long time.


Whether it's widening economic inequality, the lack of basic healthcare for millions of people, the continuing scourge of bigotry and sexism or the divisions and dysfunctions that plague our political system. Similarly the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Nina Pop aren't simply a reaction to those particular tragedies as heartbreaking as they are, they speak to decades of anguish and frustration over unequal treatment and a failure to perform police practices in the broader criminal justice system.


ALLEN: The former President went on to say that it was unbelievably inspiring for him to see so many young people from a variety of backgrounds participating in peaceful protests across the United States.

In the coming hours in Minneapolis the former officer charged with second degree murder in the death of George Floyd is set to make a court appearance. This as a majority of the city council now pledges to defund and dismantle the police department. Our Josh Campbell is in Minneapolis.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: With calls from some groups across the nation for defunding of police agencies, the city council here in Minneapolis, of course the epicenter of the latest controversy following the death of George Floyd after that encounter with police officers, city council here signaling their intention to move forward with reforms that would dismantle the city's police department and replace it with a new model for public safety.

I spoke with Lisa Bender, the city council's president who said that she now has a nine-person veto proof majority that's required to move forward with certain reforms. She told me that the police department in its current form is not effectively serving the public.

LISA BENDER, PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: I just stood with a total of nine members of the Minneapolis City Council, and we committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our communities safe.

CAMPBELL: Now it's worth pointing out that the city council president does not appear to be on the same page as the city's mayor. Just over the weekend, Mayor Jacob Frey was in a rally here in Minneapolis and was asked point-blank by the crowd whether he would agree to defund the police. He told him that no, he would not agree to that. that leading to large boos from the crowd as he left that rally.

Now it's also worth noting that the mayor is not alone. We talked to the head of the Congressional Black Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, Karen Bass, who said that she too is not in favor of disbanding the police but wants instead to move certain amounts of funding to ways that would better help the community.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): So, 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 a number of problems.

Now I don't believe that we 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 as the debate over policing reform continues the former officer at the center of the current controversy, Derek Chauvin, he will have his first appearance before a judge by video link to the courtroom behind me. Now we know that at least two of the officers that were involved in that incident, their attorneys are pointing to Chauvin and his seniority, saying that he is largely responsible for Floyd's death. We will wait and see what Chauvin's defense strategy will be.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Minneapolis.


ALLEN: The antiracism protests continue to gather momentum around the world. Right there, a statue of a 17th century slave owner was toppled in England and thrown into the water. We'll continue to show you how people around the world are marking this moment in history.


CROWD CHANTS: I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.




ALLEN: This is Brussels, Belgium. There were some clashes at a protest here Sunday. Protesters threw stones and concrete at police and they responded with water cannon and arrests.

In Italy's financial capital of Milan people also gathered to show support for Black Lives Matter and to protest the killing of George Floyd. And thousands protested outside the U.S. embassy in Madrid to show solidarity with calls for racial justice. Largely peaceful demonstrations in London turned violent Sunday evening. At least 12 people were arrested after a peaceful day. And another British city, this is Bristol. A statue of a 17th century

slave owner was taken down. Tossed into the water. CNN's Nina dos Santos is standing by in London as we see that video there. Apparently, it had been discussed by city officials what to do with this statue for quite a long time. Nothing resolved. So as we can see, protesters took care of it.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they took matters into their own hands. And these are quite dramatic pictures for the United Kingdom where over the recent decade or so we've had many debates flaring about, various controversial figures linked to the slave trade in this country. And some prominent art historians demanding that their statues be taken down. But in this case people took matters into their own hands, as you said, and tossed that statue of Edward Colston, a controversial but prominent figure for the time in Bristol into the mouth of the river River Aven.

And across the country things were largely peaceful up until these kinds of flash points, Natalie.


We also saw that here in London over the course of Saturday evening and also Sunday evening just as the sun started to set and the protesters were marching peacefully for much of the day in very large numbers completely against social distancing rules I have to say because of the throngs of crowds that arrived on the streets. We saw some skirmishes between the police officers and some of the hardened minorities of some of these people protesting who have stayed on. Rocks were thrown. Some bicycles, objects were thrown at police horses. We saw a female officer being knocked off her horse and having to and up in hospital on Saturday evening. And yesterday, the police actually ended up having to put on riot gear and ordered protesters to disperse until 6 a.m. this morning.

Having said that though, largely a lot of people have decided to continue to take to the streets to march from the U.S. embassy on the south side of the River Thames, all the way towards Westminster to the other side of Thames, the seat of power and Downing Street where Boris Johnson lives. They said, well look, the scourge of racism is just as important to us as also the pandemic. The authorities are urging people not to protest because they are concerned of a second wave of coronavirus infections. But those who continue to take to the streets say now this is our moment. We need to make our voices heard -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes, they're willing to take that risk. Nina dos Santos in London for us. Thank you, Nina.

One of the organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest there in London is 18-year-old Ima who prefers not to reveal her last name and she joins us now live. Good morning to you, Aima. And I have to say, you organized quite the rally outside the U.S. embassy there. It was massive. What do you think about the response, the turnout. How are you feeling about that? AIMA, CO-ORGANIZER, BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST IN LONDON: Yes, hello,

thank you. About the response and turnout, I did not expect that. I cannot lie to you at all. I think someone said there were over 15k people there, and I was in utter shock when I arrived and there were so many people there. I think the response has been insane.

Yesterday at the march there were multiple people, different races, genders, ages and I think what I realize is that so many people have been affected by this, so many people's family members and friends have been affected by this and so many people have the same points and say, people just want change.

Well, Aima, I have to ask you before we talk more about what people were saying out there during this rally and what you hope to come from it, how did you do it? You are 18. Have you ever planned anything like this before?

AIMA: Yes, no, I haven't planned anything like this before. I am 18 and I think that our generation is really like changing the world. It all started when I messaged my co-organizer Tasha and I told her that I want to change something. I saw the video of George Floyd and I saw how the cop knelt on his knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and I was so disgusted by everything. I then realized that there are similarities between the way the U.S. police and the U.K. police treat black people and I was furious about that. So I spoke to Tasha and we put out a hashtag #LDMBLM and from then on it just took over really.

VAUSE: It certainly did. And one of the people there interviewed by CNN as we just heard before you came on said, this is not a trend. It's not a hashtag. This isn't a fashion statement. We're here to change something. Do you get a sense that this will turn into a movement to submit real change regarding racism?

AIMA: I completely agree with her statement. I believe this will change everything. Because our generation is protesting. Previous generations have protested but right now I think that we all understand that we cannot stop protesting until there is change.

ALLEN: How important is it too, Aima, that non-blacks are joining in these protests around the world?

AIMA: Yes, I really think that is so important that people who are not black join us because that shows that it's not only black people who can see this, it is other people that if there are more people joining us, that means the messes it's just going to spread further. We need nonblack people to join in solidarity with us to help us spread this moment further and further.

ALLEN: So the question is are the leaders in the U.K. listening? What do you want to hear from people who can invoke change with racist practices and policies?


AIMA: Yes, I think that the leaders in the U.K. haven't really responded. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London did talk, I think it was a few days ago, which I really did appreciate. But I feel like Boris Johnson, the other MPs should speak more about this. We need these discussions happening in Parliament. We need everything to change. I don't think that -- I think now they may realize that they do need to speak about this more. But I want more training for police. I just want more discussion about racism in the U.K.

ALLEN: Well, you're on your way and you're inspiring your generation. We know you're starting university soon. We'll be looking forward to see what you do with your life and what you end up studying. Thank you, Aima and tell Tasha great job.

AIMA: Thank you. I will.

ALLEN: Next here, hard hit New York is celebrating a major step in its fight against coronavirus.


ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Got the latest figures for you. The U.S. closing in on 2 million coronavirus cases and more than 110,000 deaths. And the government is running low on the only drug capable of alleviating some strain on patients. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official, supplies of remdesivir proven to shorten hospital stays will run out by the end of this month. The company behind the drug is ramping up production but the timeline is unclear.

Hard hit New York is heading in the right direction though. The state has seen more than 30,000 deaths but the governor says.