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Minneapolis City Council Vows To Dismantle City's Police Department; New Poll Has Joe Biden With 14-Point Lead Over President Trump Nationally; Interview With NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) On New York City Beginning First Phase Of Reopening Today; Final Memorial For George Floyd In Houston Today. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to look at how we are spending the resources, and invest more in our communities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild a new model of public safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not for abolishing the entire police department. I'll be honest about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The former officer at the center of the latest controversy, Derek Chauvin, will have his first appearance by video link to a judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only will Officer Chauvin's conduct be on display, what the others did during the course of this conduct will display. Did he hear George Floyd when he said "I want my mom. I can't breathe."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. And new this morning, the Minneapolis city council is vowing to dismantle the city's police department two weeks after the killing of George Floyd.

The council says it determined that the current police operation cannot be reformed as is. Now, this really doesn't mean there will be no law enforcement or no policing per se. This does follow a growing push to defund police departments across the country. Today Democrats in Congress are expected to release a sweeping program aimed at curbing excessive force.

In just hours, the fired police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck will make his first court appearance. A public viewing takes place for Floyd today in Houston. Joe Biden will meet with the Floyd family today. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And John, this comes as a new CNN

national poll shows Biden with a 14-point lead over President Trump. Our poll also shows an overwhelming majority of Americans support the peaceful protests and disapprove of the president's response to the unrest.

Large, mostly peaceful protests, were held across the country, including in New York, where a curfew was lifted this weekend. New York City is finally reopening also from the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio is going to join us in just a few minutes to talk about all of the challenges ahead. And while every state is reopening in some manner, 22 states this morning are seeing a spike, sometimes a significant spike, in cases.

We have a lot to talk to, but let's bring in Van Jones, CNN political commentator.

Van, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Let's start with Minneapolis. So Minneapolis is, their city council, they have a veto-proof majority where they want to dismantle the Minneapolis police department. Not reform. They made it clear, this is not just synonymous with reform. They want to dismantle the police as we know it. What are your thoughts?

JONES: I think the messaging here may be off for people who are trying to figure out what's going on. I think most people want police, and they want policing. What they want is lawful policing. The problem is with that department in particular, this department is kind of fallen between two chairs. They have a horrible clearance rate when it comes to murders, when it comes to rape, I mean, horrible, abysmal. And so they're not doing their job of public safety.

And at the same time, they have this long track record of brutality, and especially a horrible relationship with the black community. And so when you have the police department that is neither keeping you safe from crime, nor is it abiding by the law and treating people with respect and following civil rights and civil liberties, then neither side can come to the rescue of this department. And so they're going to need to really restructure it.

I would rather them say they are restructuring it, they're upgrading it. I think that they hand people who may be enemies of police reform a rhetorical weapon when they say they're going to dismantle it, essentially saying destroy it, just like when they say they're going to defund the police.

When you look at what they talk about, the Black Lives Matter movement and others, all of the reforms that they're talking about are very, very popular -- rebalancing some of the funds so that the cops don't have to do so much of the social work in our communities and that more social work could be done by social workers. That's very popular. But when you say defund the police, that may sound like you're saying eliminate the police. So we're going through this period now where people are trying to put forward real solutions so that the police can do their jobs in a lawful manner with the tools for accountability in place, but the way that we're messaging and talking about it may alarm some people who are not following this very closely.

BERMAN: Just so people know, in Camden, New Jersey, they closed down the police department there once and replaced it with a countywide police department. Now, I don't know if they literally used the word "dismantle" there, but that's what happened. So the words being used now mean different things to different people. The goals may be more universally shared, Van.

JONES: Yes, again, it's a marketing and branding issue.


It's interesting, over the long-term, defund the police, dismantle the police may seem less ominous to people who are alarmed by it, as people start understanding what they're talking about. Again, don't forget, law enforcement, in case nobody asked them, they don't want to be going into communities either where social services have been stripped out, youth programs have been stripped out, schools have been stripped out, and then they have to take on as police the jobs of being therapists, counsellors, social workers, marriage counsellors, and everything else, and they're 23 years old and it's their first job and they're under tremendous stress.

So law enforcement itself, when you present it the right way, they would not mind a rebalancing of some of these city budgets so they aren't going into stressed communities with so much responsibility that's really not their job. It's just as you have a new generation coming on, and thank God they're coming on, the way they see things, the way they say things, the way they tweet things, can create some real confusion. What are you talking about?

I think as people look at the actual agenda, beyond the tweets, beyond the hashtags, beyond the soundbites and beyond labeling, I think a lot of people on both sides of the aisle and including law enforcement would actually support a lot of what they're talking about.

Nobody in America and no law enforcement person in America is proud of this department. Everybody understands the department in that city is failing both on civil liberties and on civil rights and on public safety, something needs to be done, whether you call it dismantle, upgrade, improve, change, something has to give in that city. And that's what you see.

CAMEROTA: The question of course is if voters are going to take the time to educate themselves and dive into the details. And as you know, Van, President Trump doesn't deal in details or nuance. He deals in slogans.

And so this morning, we had this new CNN poll that shows Joe Biden with a commanding lead over President Trump. And so do you as a Democrat, worry that rhetorical weapon that you just talked about will be handed to President Trump and he can make hay of it in this time of unrest?

JONES: Well, listen, you're 140-some days from a national election, which should be a referendum on President Trump. And there's a lot to hold him to account for if you're a voter. How do you feel about the economy? How do you feel about the handling of the pandemic?

How do you feel about his response to the protests, which he gave very positive comments about the family and to the FBI. That's a positive. But his comments about the protest I think have been more negative. So there's a lot there.

Sometimes I worry that Democrats never miss the opportunity to miss the opportunity by moving forward with stuff that may be confusing. There is this kind of tendency or this desire among the left on the left of our party to so-called expand the Overton window. You'll hear that, expand the Overton window. What does that mean? Back in my day we called that setting a left poll, going out there with a demand that may sound extreme, but it pushes the debate forward.

The question is, do you want to expand the Overton window 140-plus days before an election when you may fall through that window and out onto the floor and have four more years of an administration that you don't like. So these are the debates that are going on behind the scenes.

What you want to look out for today as the Congressional Black Caucus comes forward for the Democrats with a package, with a bill, how do the lawmakers in the community, at the national level, see this issue? How do they language it? Do you see the Congressional Black Caucus come forward and say dismantle and defund the police, or do they come forward with a different language?

That would give you a sense there may be a split between the grassroots forces driving forward with the change who are on the front lines in Minneapolis, who are leading this conversation on Twitter, how they see it and how they message it versus how the people who are elected to office at the highest levels want to have this conversation with the American public.

You want to look for that split or you want to look for that unity, and then that will give you a sense of what you can expect from a Joe Biden and a national Democratic Party on these issues.

CAMEROTA: Van Jones, thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: There's a new national CNN poll just out this morning, and it shows a seven-point decline in President Trump's approval rating in just the last month. And former Vice President Joe Biden opening up his widest lead thus far over President Trump, 14 points.

Joining us now to break down the numbers, we have CNN political director David Chalian. So David, tell us what you see in these numbers. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Alisyn, that overall

approval number 38 percent, it's at the lower end of the range that Donald Trump trades in over the course of his presidency, disapproval 57 percent.


But as you noted, down seven points from last month. Where did that movement come from? Look at it by party. Look at approval by party, and you'll see that Donald Trump lost among Republicans, independents and Democrats, but notably independents, nine point down among that critical group of voters. Look at his approval by race, Alisyn. He has 10 percent approval among African-Americans, 30 percent among Latinos, and 45 percent approval among whites.

And we also like to always put the president in his historical context. Take a look at Donald Trump's approval rating, that 38 percent where he is now in his presidency, five months before his reelection date, he's in the territory there with Jimmy Carter in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1992, two presidents who lost their bids for reelection and only served one term. You see his two-term counterparts, Bush, Obama, Reagan, Clinton all much higher at this point in their presidency than Donald Trump is.

We also asked, Alisyn, about how Americans are perceiving these protests that they're seeing. Are these peaceful protests justified? And 84 percent -- 84 percent of Americans don't agree on anything -- see these protests as justified. That is much higher than when we asked that even a few years ago. Also, Donald Trump's response to the protests we asked about, has it been harmful or helpful, 65 percent, two-thirds of Americans in this poll say it's been harmful, Alisyn.

And you noted that 2020 horse race number. The presidential election is clearly advantage Biden at this snapshot in time, 21 weeks to go, that's a life time in politics, but 55 percent for Joe Biden, 41 percent for Donald Trump among registered voters. Take a look in the last few months, you'll just see this has been a Biden advantage race for its entirety, different margins and bigger one now at 14 points, but you see that Joe Biden has had the edge since he's emerged as the Democratic nominee.

And finally, this issue of race relations is coming up to the top of mind for voters in terms of extremely important in their vote for president. It's up there with the economy and health care, 42 percent calling race relations extremely important. Who is better to handle some of these very important issues?

Well, on race relations it's not even a contest. Joe Biden has twice as much support, 63 percent say he's better to handle race relations to 31 percent for Trump. On coronavirus handling, 55 percent for Biden, 41 percent for Trump. That actually mirrors the overall race. And on the economy, this is the one silver lining in the poll for Donald Trump right now -- 51 percent say the president is better to handle the economy, 46 percent say Joe Biden.

CAMEROTA: David, really interesting numbers. As you say, it's a snapshot at this moment, but a really interesting one. Thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: So New York is reopening this morning, and New York City's mayor joins us next.



BERMAN: All right, happening this morning, a big moment for New York City. The city begins its first phase of reopening right now.

Some 400,000 workers are expected physically back on the job today. Sunday saw the lowest number of new coronavirus infections here since the beginning of the pandemic.

Joining me now is New York City's Mayor, Bill de Blasio. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us. What is your message to the thousands of people coming back to work physically in New York City today? What do they need to do now to get to the next phase?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: John, it is literally a beautiful day here in New York City. This is a triumphant moment for New Yorkers who fought back against this disease.

This was the epicenter and folks did the hard work, they sheltered in place, they did the social distancing, the face coverings and got us to this day.

So my message, John, is stick to it. Come back to work, but remember to stick to those smart rules that got us this far and if we keep doing that -- and I think, john, there's real sense of discipline and purpose here in this city, because of what we've been through, because we've lost a lot of people.

There's a lot of pain and I think it has created a sense of we were all in this together and we've got to get it right.

So, we're going to have city inspectors out at work sites to make sure people are following the rules, but I think everyone is clear they've got to keep using their hand sanitizer, do all of the smart things to stay safe and if we do that right, then we keep moving forward.

Also, we've created a huge test and trace program -- and this is crucial, John -- thousands of city workers who will be out engaging folks, making sure once they test positive, we track all of the people in their circle that they've been in close contact with, get those folks tested, get folks who need isolation or quarantine, free hotel rooms, whatever it takes to stop the spread of the disease.

And I think that's a huge kind of counter offensive that's going to help us keep this disease in check.

BERMAN: Mr. Mayor, you're in the middle of a bunch of stories right now. You have announced that you are going to divert funds from the police into social programs. You said you don't know exactly --

DE BLASIO: New programs.

BERMAN: New programs, you don't know exactly how many, but explain how reducing funds for policing will make people safer.

DE BLASIO: John, here is the thing that we've known for decades. If we address the needs of young people, it actually makes the entire community safe.

If we help keep young people away from negative influences, away from gangs, away from crime, it's best for the community and the police and a lot of police leaders have believed this for a long time, so we're going to do more and more to give our young people those positive avenues and options.

We have a big, strong effective police force. We're going to be able to take money out of that police force, put it into youth programs and still of course keep New Yorkers safe. But this is preventative, this is proactive.

Our Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea have spoken about this eloquently over the last year. The NYPD needs to reorient young people and stop problems before they start and actually be part of the solving the problems in their lives. That's his aspirations for the NYPD.

BERMAN: All kinds of rumors overnight about a shakeup inside the New York City Police Department. What is the truth?

DE BLASIO: The truth is that we have great leaders who are doing a great job.

As I said, Dermot Shea's vision has been to make policing more about youth. I support that. I support him. Terry Monahan, our Chief of the Department helped to peacefully disperse a protest in Washington Square Park last week and the protesters said show respect for what we are saying, take a knee with us, and he did.


DE BLASIO: The Chief of the Department, highest ranking uniformed officer in the biggest police force in America took a knee with respect for the protesters. That didn't get the attention it deserved. I give him a lot of credit for that and the way he handled these protests.

There are problems to address, John. There are full investigations going on the way the protests were handled to see if there's things that need to be addressed and done better. There are some individual officers who did not do the right thing, and that discipline has already begun and accountability.

But when you look overall, John, the biggest city in America, no National Guard, I wouldn't let them in. It did not make sense to bring military in. We had, thank God, no loss of life, few major injuries. We had some

property damage, but we stopped it quickly. No police precincts burned. No mounted units. No teargas, no rubber bullets.

This NYPD kept the city safe with a much lighter touch than I think people are realizing, but that being said, there were still mistakes, there are still things that must be addressed and there must be faster discipline for any officer who does the wrong thing.

BERMAN: And you are aware of this, I don't need to tell you. You've been criticized from both sides. There was criticism when there was the looting and then the physical destruction that took place in the city and there has been criticism from the other side which said you've been too supportive of the police, including this letter that I'm going to read a little bit of now from some 400 people who have worked for the city including for you over the years.

And in this letter it says, "We have joined together in writing this letter because we cannot remain silent while the administration we serve allows the NYPD to turn our city into an occupied territory. Our former boss," that's you," might not hear the cries for justice from black and brown New Yorkers, but we do. We are demanding radical change from the Mayor who is on the brink of losing all legitimacy in the eyes of New Yorkers."

DE BLASIO: Well, I've been all over this city in recent days, John, and the vast, vast majority of New Yorkers have the intelligence and the subtlety and the practicality to want both safety and justice, and that's what we've been doing in this administration.

We ended stop and frisk. We reduced incarceration. We have the lowest number of people incarcerated since World War II in in city. We brought down crime, while simultaneously healing the relationship with police and the community with the neighborhood policing policy, 180,000 fewer arrests last year, than the last year of the previous administration.

I mean, this is so much, John, that's been in the direction of change and reform and more is coming, and I'll tell you, neighborhood people, I was out in southeast Queens on Saturday talking to the neighborhood people and what they said to me was, they want to see change in the NYPD, but they also need safety and they need to work with the NYPD cooperatively.

That's what every day New Yorkers, working class New Yorkers want to see.

BERMAN: Mr. Mayor, as we said, you have a lot going on right now. We wish you the best of the luck going forward with the reopening beginning today. Thanks so much for being with us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: So, the final memorial for George Floyd begins in just hours in Houston. One of Floyd's long-time friends, former NBA star Stephen Jackson, joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: Just hours from now, the public will pay its respects to George Floyd at the final memorial in Houston. This comes a day ahead of a private funeral which will be tomorrow.

Joining us now is former NBA star, Stephen Jackson. He was friends with George Floyd. Stephen, always great to have you on. We appreciate you being here with us and I know in some ways this is the homecoming for George Floyd.

There had been the memorials in Minnesota and also North Carolina, but this is where you grew up with him. So, what is this like? This moment like for you and the family right now?

STEPHEN JACKSON, FRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: Good morning. Thanks for having me. I've been asked this question how I'm feeling for a while and you know, I can't even tell you how I feel.

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 the last two days, but the city is feeling this type of way and they're ready to put him to rest, put him to rest the right way and the city is supporting him.

It just sucks that all the people that really knew him and really from the city and really grew up in the third ward won't be able to attend, but the love will be there.

BERMAN: You said you've had this -- you're just coming to terms with the new leadership role you all of a sudden find yourself in. What are you going to do with it?

JACKSON: Well, hopefully I continue to lead the right way. I honestly feel like I have more power than Biden and Trump to be honest with you, because I have so many people following me and I'm standing up for everybody.

You know, I'm one guy that told everybody from every race that I love them and they know I mean it and vice versa, so I didn't ask for this role. They didn't expect George Floyd to have a celebrity famous friend who was going to stand up and ride for him like I am and the world is following, all 50 states, 18 countries are protesting at the same time. It's never been done.

It's a blessing to be leading that and there's so much more we have to fight for -- Breonna Taylor and so many others that we still have got to get justice for my brothers.

So, with this role I'm thankful, I didn't ask for it, but I am embracing it. BERMAN: It's a blessing, and it's also a responsibility, I know as

well. You mentioned both former Vice President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Let me ask you one question about each.

The former Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Houston today to meet with the family. What's the significance of that?

JACKSON: I don't know. I don't know. I love the fact that he is meeting with the daughter and the daughter's mother because I have a special love for Roxy and Gigi. That's the main ones I want to see do well, but I don't know.

I really don't know his intentions. I hope they're good, but you know, me, I don't know who to vote for because I don't know who has the best interest at heart for us and I am not a political guy.

I stand for what's right. I stand for all the humans in the world because love for all who have love for all. I love everybody. I think that's why the world is standing together because everybody is tired of so much hate being spread around. We need to stand together for love.