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Minneapolis Council Moves to Dismantle Police Department; Congressional Democrats to Propose Sweeping Police Reform Bill; Mitt Romney Joins Protest March in Washington. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: What might America look like without law enforcement as we know it? The city where George Floyd was killed is taking steps towards major change in defunding the police.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Plus, thousands of Americans taking to the streets. But top officials at the White House doubling down, claiming there is no systemic racism in law enforcement.

JARRETT: And a small but significant step in what had been the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., New York City begins reopening today. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, this is EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans. Great to be with you, Laura, even though we are still socially distant, it is Monday --

JARRETT: Always good to have you, Boris --

SANCHEZ: Always great to see you, Laura. It is Monday, June 8th, 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

JARRETT: Well, the city where George Floyd's killing reignited a movement could become the ground for major police reform. Over the weekend, Americans peacefully marched through the streets in scenes reminiscent of the civil rights movement from coast-to-coast and even beyond the U.S. Those protests is now fueling a growing call to defund police departments.

SANCHEZ: Yes, activists want a sizeable chunk of that money to be invested in communities especially marginalized ones where often a lot of policing is focused. Police reform now in the spotlight on both the national and local level. Let's bring in CNN correspondent and former FBI agent Josh Campbell in Minneapolis.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Boris, with calls from some groups across the country for the defunding of police, the City Council here in Minneapolis, of course, the epicenter of the latest controversy, following the death of George Floyd after that police encounter. City Council here signaling their intention to move ahead with reforms

that would dismantle the police department and create a new model for public safety. I spoke with the City Council president who told me that she now has a veto proof majority 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: In the past, I've supported and attempted to and sometimes successfully moved funding out of the police department into community-based safety strategies. So that is what I think about when I think about that ask is that instead of investing in more policing, that we invest in those alternatives, those community-based strategies.


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 Fry was at 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 here is not alone. We talked to the head of the congressional black caucus and 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): 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 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, as the debate continues about what to do with this city's police department, the former officer at the center of the latest controversy, Derek Chauvin, will have his first appearance by video link to a judge behind me here downtown at the city's jail. 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 as the reason the person largely responsible for Floyd's death. We will wait to see whether Chauvin's attorney signals in court what his defense strategy will be. Laura, Boris?

JARRETT: All right, Josh, thanks so much for that. On Capitol Hill, Democrats in the house and Senate are putting police reforms front and center. Democratic leaders along with the Congressional black caucus plan to unveil a legislation this morning that calls for sweeping reforms that includes anti-lynching language, bans choke-holds, provisions to increase training and creates a national police misconduct registry.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It's going to be a broad, comprehensive measure, the strongest ever introduced to bring more fairness and racial equality to police departments throughout the country.


JARRETT: Now, Democrats acknowledge they don't have Republican support for their bill. However, and GOP leaders in the Senate have shown little appetite for police reform legislation thus far.

SANCHEZ: Republican Senator Mitt Romney breaking from other Republican lawmakers by marching in Washington D.C. on Sunday, joining protesters. An aide says that Romney spontaneously marched for 90 minutes with a group of more than a thousand evangelicals.


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


SANCHEZ: The president's response to the protest has drawn sharp criticism from a growing number of former military officials. Joining that cause, Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, listen to what he told Jake Tapper.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I've been out of the military now for 25 years, and so I'm watching them closely because they were all junior officers when I left. And I'm proud of what they're doing. I'm proud that they were willing to take the risk of speaking honesty and speaking truth to those who are not speaking truth. We have a constitution, and we have to follow the constitution. And the president has drifted away from it.


JARRETT: General Powell also said that he will vote for Joe Biden in November. Meanwhile, the former Vice President plans to meet with George Floyd's family in Houston today ahead of the viewing. President Trump will be holding a roundtable with law enforcement. CNN has also learned that White House officials are considering a plan for the president to address the nation this week on race and national unity.

As we remember, the last time he spoke to the nation, well, it happened as federal officers forcibly ejected protesters from Lafayette Park before he staged a widely criticized photo-op in front of St. John's church.

SANCHEZ: President Trump meantime is ordering the National Guard to begin withdrawing from the nation's capital. The presence of federal law enforcement has been a point of contention between the president and the Mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser. On Thursday, Bowser formally requested a full withdrawal including military personnel.


MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, WASHINGTON: What we saw last week was basically an invasion of our city. Active duty army troops moved from all points around the country to threaten our autonomy.


SANCHEZ: Mayor Bowser also commissioned these large yellow letters painted on the road to the White House, reading "black lives matter". She dedicated that area, Black Lives Matter plaza. She believes the aggressive law enforcement response to the early protests actually encouraged more people to participate and do it peacefully. The new Black Lives Matter plaza also received a visit on Sunday, from a civil rights icon, somebody who frequently has had disagreements with the president, Congressman John Lewis.

JARRETT: What a picture there. Well, as thousands of Americans hit the streets to protest, several top Trump administration officials continue to claim that systemic racism is not an issue in law enforcement.


CHAD WOLF, ACTING SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I did not think that we have a systemic racism problem with law enforcement officers across this country. Do I acknowledge that there are some law enforcement officers that abuse their job? Yes.

BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I think there's racism in the United States still, but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: If George Floyd had been white, would he be alive today?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: No, I don't think he would. What I heard in that eight-and-a-half minute clip was someone who was a bully, who was abusing his position of authority and power in the law. And I have a funny feeling, I don't know anything about his professional history, but I have a feeling we're going to find that he wasn't necessarily that well thought of as a role model among law enforcement.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Those comments striking at the very core argument behind the

demonstrations we're seeing throughout the country. Well, they were swiftly criticized by Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a former law enforcement officer herself who said, we know that we have been fighting systemic racism in this country for 400 years.

SANCHEZ: Looking overseas, thousands gathered in London for a largely peaceful protest against systemic racism in the U.S. and around the world. A stunning seen in Bristol. This is in southwest England, protesters pulling down a bronze statue of a 17th century slave trader. They rolled it all the way to a nearby harbor, you can see there, they threw it into the River Avon.

For the latest on Britain's Black Lives Matter movement, let's go to CNN Europe editor Nina dos Santos in London. Nina, I'm curious about what you're seeing there, I saw an image of people kneeling in front of parliament. It underscores the idea that this is a global issue.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Yes, it's a global issue and it's one that is affecting many different people in the U.K., not just people who are from black descendancy, but also people who are from the Asian and other ethnic minorities as well and many white people in the U.K., taking part in these demonstrations, taking a knee as you can see there in front of parliament.

They started marching over the course of the weekend on Saturday from the U.S. Embassy on the south side of the River Thames all the way towards parliament on the other side of the river. And then in the evening both on Saturday and Sunday evening during these weekend protests that drew thousands of people converge upon Downing Street, the seat of the British Prime Minister.

Which by the way is just on the other side of the road at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police. The biggest, most senior police force in this country. And it was at that time when these crowds began to converge and remained there as the day was coming to an end both on Saturday and on Sunday that we saw skirmishes. Skirmishes that saw the police put on their riot gear on Sunday evening, which is quite unusual in this country, and arrest about a dozen people.

Now, these scenes are being condemned by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who's accused, quote, "thugs" of having hijacked what was otherwise a peaceful protest. But overall, the government is also very concerned about the lack of social distancing in some of these protests, largely because this is a country that is about to reopen its economy. The government desperately wants to kick the wheels in motion of the economy in just a few days time.

They're very concerned about the potential for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. And for that reason, they're appealing to people to remind them that it is technically illegal to still gather in large numbers in this country. Having said that, many protesters are saying, this means just as much to us as of course the threat of coronavirus. And they will still continue to take to the streets, Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Nina, I was actually in a protest here in Washington D.C. this weekend, and I spoke with a woman who told me that she fears for her life as a black woman with or without coronavirus, her safety in this country is an open question. So being out there is just very important to her. Something she will do despite the danger. Nina dos Santos reporting from London, thank you so much.

Looking at a situation in California now, the FBI is investigating whether the shooting death of two officers there are related. One attack happened on Saturday north of Santa Cruz. Officials say a sheriff sergeant was killed in a shooting, and two other officers were hurt in an ambush that involved explosive devices. A suspect is now in custody in the attack. Authorities have identified them as Steven Carrillo; an active duty sergeant at Travis Air Force Base, it's more than a 100 miles north of the crime scene.

In the other attack on May 29th, one federal security officer was killed and another officer injured during protests in Oakland.

JARRETT: All right, still ahead, the health officials are trying to answer a really critical question right now. How do you fight for social justice and at the same time maintain social distance?



JARRETT: Phase one of reopening finally comes to New York City today. Exactly, a 100 days after the first confirmed coronavirus case here. Officials say as many as 400,000 people could return to jobs in construction, manufacturing and retail. Curbside and in-store pickup are now allowed, but dining at restaurants will have to wait. Reopening poses a big test for the city's mass transit system as well, which is now being disinfected system-wide daily.

But MTA officials expect subway ridership to stay below 15 percent -- 50 percent, I should say, through Labor Day. The earliest date for phase two of reopening, including offices and hair salons is the end of June.

SANCHEZ: But even as more states relax coronavirus restrictions, the pandemic remains a very real threat. It took about 3 months to reach a 100,000 deaths in the U.S. But then just another 10,000 were added in the last 10 days. The pandemic is not really going away. The daily death toll still falling at a painfully slow rate. There's good news and bad news.

Coronavirus cases are trending down in 20 states, but in 22 states, they're headed in the wrong direction. More than half of them substantially. There's also a lot of deep red in the south, Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma, you'll recall, they were among the first states to reopen.

JARRETT: Yes, in Florida, more than a 1,000 new infections have been reported daily since the middle of last week. That's the longest sustained increase since April. Florida just entered phase 2 of its reopening Friday, removing limits on how many people can be in stores or gyms. Even in California, it's steadily climbing there, a state worse, 3,600 new cases on Friday.

The labor market is trying to bounce back after effectively being shut down when the virus hit, 87 percent of economists in the latest survey by the National Associate of Business Economics believe a second wave of infections could be the biggest danger to America's economy this year.

SANCHEZ: Yes, health officials are grabbling with an unprecedented dynamic amid repeated calls for social distancing, there are growing public demands for social justice. And doctors are expressing concern that these protests worldwide could set back months of efforts to slow coronavirus. CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard takes a closer look.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: You know, the nation is really seeing two important events right now. Protests for social justice and the coronavirus pandemic.


Now the CDC is closely monitoring COVID in areas where the protests are being held, officials want to document any new outbreaks, and currently, there are no data yet on whether new outbreaks have occurred. But this monitoring is a precaution. It's in no way meant to deter protests. And protesters tell CNN, it's worth braving crowds to stand against racial injustice. So what health officials are concerned about is the close contact scene between protesters.


ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: We're very concerned that our public health message isn't resonating. We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups. The pictures that the chair woman showed me are great examples of serious problems.


HOWARD: And officials also acknowledge that tear gas used by police causes coughing which potentially can spread the coronavirus. Protesters are encouraged to wear face masks. But this question of the use of tear gas by police is still left to be answered. Laura, Boris?

JARRETT: All right, Jacqueline, thank you so much for that. When it comes to treatments, the only known drug, effective against COVID-19 is in critically short supply in the U.S. Government health official say the U.S. supply of remdesivir will run out at the end of the month. The drug maker Gilead is ramping up to make more, but it's unclear how much will be available this Summer.

The FDA gave authorization for remdesivir earlier this year. At least, one study showed it shaves four days off a hospital stay for a COVID- 19 patient from 15 to 11 days. SANCHEZ: Well, we sort of knew it was only a matter of time. Several

colleges are now reporting coronavirus cases in their athletic programs. And this is a big problem because college athletes live and practice in close quarters. And of course, thousands of fans are eager to attend their games especially after months without sports.

Five players on the University of Alabama football team have already tested positive. And now Arkansas state reports seven athletes from three sports tested positive last week. Three football players from Auburn also testing positive, and Marshall University and Oklahoma State each reporting several cases among their athletes.

JARRETT: Latin America is losing its fight against COVID-19. Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru all reporting a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Nearly 1.3 million cases and 60,000 deaths making the region the global pandemic hotspot right now. And those numbers may not be telling the full story because testing is low. Many coronavirus deaths are going unreported and Brazil stopped reporting total numbers last week after their death toll surpassed Italy's.

All right, happening now, a tropical storm makes landfall in the south, already some evacuations ahead of possible life-threatening storm surges. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Tropical storm, now tropical depression Cristobal has officially made landfall in Louisiana. Cristobal is the third named storm, this hurricane season, which is expected to be a busy one. Heavy rain in Louisiana could lead to flash-flooding, life-threatening storm surges could be a problem there. And in Mississippi, New Orleans has issued a voluntary evacuation for areas outside the levee system.

And the system is already triggered seven reports of tornadoes in Florida including one near downtown Orlando. CNN's meteorologist Jennifer Grey is tracking the storm, so Jennifer, what can we expect today?

JENNIFER GREY, METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're going to still see some storm-surge near the mouth of the Mississippi. Also the threat of tornadoes, and like you mentioned, that life-threatening flooding is also going to be a possibility. The latest on the storm right now, tropical depression, 35-mile per hour winds, gusts of 45, moving to the north northwest at about 10 miles per hour.

Now, this storm is going to continue to head to the north, it's going to produce damaging winds, the possibility of isolated tornadoes in those areas shaded and green and yellow. Here's the Hi-Res forecast radar, as we go forward in time. You can see those areas near southeast Louisiana, the mouth of the Mississippi, still torrential rain for those areas.

Even at this hour, and as we go forward in time, those rains are going to slowly lift through the north, impacting much of the Mississippi River Valley up onto the Midwest. Now, the radar estimated rainfall so far just in the last 48 hours, 4 to 6 inches, some isolated amounts could be near 10 inches. And like we mentioned, some of these areas, still getting the rain.

So, the radar estimated rainfall as we go forward in time today into tomorrow, you can see through Jackson, Mississippi getting a lot of rain. There's your flood threat, you can see anywhere stretching from New Orleans all the way up through portions of Missouri into Iowa, and then the rain accumulation as we get into the next three days.

We could see an additional two to four inches of rain through the Mississippi River Valley, and so, still, a huge threat with this storm. Boris?

SANCHEZ: All right, Jennifer, thank you so much for tracking that for us. To our viewers, don't go anywhere, EARLY START continues right now.

What might America look like without law enforcement as we know it? The city where George Floyd was killed taking steps towards change and defunding the police.

JARRETT: Thousands of Americans are protesting across the country.