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CNN NEWSROOM

Protests Over George Floyd's Death Enter Third Week; Thousands Mourn George Floyd at Houston Memorial; Minneapolis City Council Votes to Dismantle Police Department; Democrats Propose Sweeping Police Reforms in New Bill; Trump Opposes Growing Calls to Defund the Police; Trump to Relaunch Campaign Rallies as Poll Numbers Dip. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 9, 2020 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of mourners unite in honoring the late George Floyd as calls for police reform grow louder.

Also this hour --

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There won't be defunding. There won't be dismantling of our police.

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ALLEN: The Trump White House defending policing in America after Democrats unveil a new police reform bill.

Also, with more states opening up, a new study suggests shut down measures prevented millions of coronavirus infections around the world.

These stories are all ahead here this hour from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our views in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Thank you for joining us. For the 14th straight day, protesters have held mass rallies across the U.S. demanding justice for George Floyd after he died in police custody. From Washington to Los Angeles demonstrators rallied by the thousands calling for racial equality and police reform. You hear the chants for Breonna Taylor also killed by police. In Portland Oregon, there was a march on a major highway which temporarily caused a traffic stop. And in New York there was this --

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CROWD CHANTS: Take a knee. Take a knee. Take a knee.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Protesters kneeling down outside police headquarters. Many of them holding up signs and raising their fists in the air. In the nation's capital, fences near the White House were turned into a makeshift memorial. Demonstrators put up signs honoring black Americans who've been killed by police. Nearby activists had also painted a bright yellow message on a street calling on officials to defund the police.

As we mentioned, the protests began after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. In a day ahead he will be buried in his hometown of Houston, Texas. On Monday, the city held a large memorial in his honor and CNN's Sara Sidner was there.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A somber homecoming for George Floyd in Houston. Where the hearse carrying his casket arrived at the Floyd family church this morning for a public memorial attended by thousands.

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PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: All of the family that's here with me today, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Arbery, it just hurts. Breonna Taylor, everybody. Thank y'all. We will get justice. We will get it. We will not let this door close.

SIDNER: Presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, met privately today with the Floyd family. The family will have their final private service here tomorrow.

In Minneapolis, the first court appearance for fired Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Who was the officer that held his knee on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes until Floyd died, the judge set bail at up to $1.25 million. This as the attorney for one of the other three officers also charged in Floyd's death is speaking out.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was doing what he thought was right. He did not stand by and watch.

SIDNER: Over the weekend from coast to coast huge protests continued calling for racial justice and police reforms including defunding police departments.

In Minneapolis, the City Council approved a plan to start the process of dismantling the police department and rebuild a new model of public safety.

LISA BENDER, PRESIDENT, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL: Our commitment is to end our city's toxic relationship with the Minneapolis police department. To end policing as we know it.

SIDNER: But the mayor is not on board. JACOB FREY, MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR: I am for massive structural and

transformational reform to an entire system that has not for generations worked for black and brown people. We have failed them and we need to entirely reshape the system. Am I for entirely abolishing the police department? No, I'm not.

SIDNER: Outside today's service in Houston, Texas Governor Greg Abbott says this is the most horrific tragedy he's ever seen and promised police reforms across his state.

GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS GOVERNOR: I am committed to working with the family of George Floyd to ensure we never have anything like this ever occur in the state of Texas.

SIDNER: Leaders across the country are already looking for new ways to repurpose some funds from law enforcement to other areas, like in New York City.

BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: 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.

SIDNER: And in Washington D.C., where activists painted defund the police near the Black Lives Matter Street mural, the mayor said what's been submitted for police funding in her budget is what's needed. She avoided directly answering whether the addition to the mural would be removed.

MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON D.C. MAYOR: We recognize it as expression and especially right now acknowledging and affirm the expression is important to this discussion that we have to have as a community.

SIDNER (on camera): Among the mourners, the family of Botham Jean, the family of Eric Garner, the family of Michael Brown, the family of Ahmaud Arbery, all here in solidarity with the Floyd family.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Houston, Texas.

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ALLEN: It's nice to see all those families have been able to come together and support one another.

Congressional Democrats have proposed sweeping legislation to crack down on police misconduct. The bill would in part make it easier to sue officers who violate the law. It would ban the use of chokeholds. Create a registry to track police misconduct and make lynching a federal crime. But so far top Democrats have stood clear of calls to defund the police.

As we've seen that slogan has been interpreted to mean all kinds of things from reducing government funds to dismantling the police force for something else. But the core concept is to reallocate funds from police and shift them to programs better suited to address social issues. These programs include services for mental health, domestic violence and homelessness.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaks with CNN's Don Lemon about legislation she's supposed to address police brutality. She started by criticizing the U.S. President for his response to the crisis.

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REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): The tragedy what we have now, Don, is we have a commander in chief and president, that has not reached out his hand to comfort this family in the way that it should or the nation. And so, the protesters are saying we want our country back. We are not going to stop until the most powerful lawmaking body in the nation. And I'm proud of the Democrats today that took the George Floyd trust and integrity act, law enforcement trust and integrity act. Working with the Congressional Black Caucus, chairwoman Karen Bass and Speaker Pelosi and Mr. Schumer and all of the leadership, we stood up today.

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We collectively stood up today. George Floyd's bill is the anchor of this legislation and what we've said to the protestors, Don, is what you been saying every night. We hear you. We hear you. Ben Crump, we hear you. Family of George Floyd, Big Floyd, Perry Floyd, we here you.

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ALLEN: So far U.S. President Trump has been vague about the reforms he would like to see, but he and his administration have rejected the idea of defunding the police.

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TRUMP: There won't be defunding. There won't be dismantling of our police. And there are not going to be any disbanding of our police -- 99, I say 99.9 but let's go with 99 percent of them are great, great people.

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KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let's be clear, if the mayor of LA wants to defund police, take money away from police. Mayor de Blasio, the mayor of New York wants to take money away from police. That means cutting up police. That means reducing police departments. That means defunding police departments, if not getting rid of them entirely. No, he does not agree with that and the rest of America doesn't agree with that.

Wanting to defund our police across this country, it is extraordinary. And when you think the left has gone far and they couldn't possibly go further -- because we all remember the defund ICE movement. They want to defund Immigration and Custom Enforcement and now they want to defund the police. This is extraordinary. This is rolling back the protective layers that protect Americans in their homes and in their places of business.

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ALLEN: The Trump administration is also defending the actions of federal law enforcement after they aggressively disbursed peaceful protestors near the White House last week. Attorney General Bill Barr claims demonstrators were being violent and says they were moved because police wanted a larger security perimeter.

Jim Bueermann is a policing consultant and former president of the Police Foundation. He was also the police chief in Redlands, California where he joins me now. Mr. Bueermann, thanks so much for coming on.

JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, POLICE FOUNDATION: It's my pleasure.

ALLEN: Well, no matter what you call it, defund, reform, overall, the public is screaming for change in police tactics. Do you support the change in police policies that we're seeing Congress propose?

BUEERMANN: Yes, you know I'd like to see the final bill when we get to that point, and the devil's always in the detail. But I think it proposes some things that, you know, many people in policing have been talking about for a long time. The national registry, for instance, is critically important as long as is used. It doesn't do any good just to have something that nobody's going to use. There are other components of that bill that makes a lot of sense. Whether that will become law or not, I think remains to be seen. But people that have been in this business for at least the last 20 or so years have been talking about many of the things that that bill encompasses.

ALLEN: And now we have seen these global rallies. How do you explain why black people are getting killed by police? Do you think there is systemic racism in police forces? And if not, what else could be causing it.

BUEERMANN: Well clearly there is racism in our society and the police are a reflection of society in so many ways. I think it's very difficult to paint the entire professional policing as racist. Policing is so different. It is so diverse in this country that it is different depending where you are. And I have worked with police agencies and police officers all over the country and many of them are officers of colors. So it would be difficult for me to say that they're racist.

But there are problems and we have got to take this as seriously as I think we are right now. And we've got to stop talking about this at some point and shift into real sustainable kind of quantum leap changes. Because we can't do this again. I mean, we just can't keep doing this. We can't watch more people die at the hands of the police. But you know, it's a very complicated thing. It sounds like it's very simple to just say, have the police stop killing people. Cops would like to stop doing that. I know many officers that have been forced to take a life. And it takes a toll on them. I mean obviously, they came out better.

But I personally have never spoken with a police officer -- and I've been in this business now for over 40 years -- and I have yet to speak to a cop who wanted to kill somebody or gloat about it. I'm sure they exist. There is no doubt in my mind. I have just never talk to one, never met one. I have some friends who been forced to do that and many have paid a personal price that they will go to the grave with.

ALLEN: Well let's talk about what we've been seeing on the streets since the death of George Floyd. When you look at the rallies which have been mostly peaceful and people are protesting police brutality and there have been acts of brutality by the police at these rallies, what does that say about police tactics overall.

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BUEERMANN: Well obviously, we've got to examine those. I mean, the police have to ask themselves a very serious question about how they have gotten themselves into a position where sometimes there just defending themselves I mean, let's be honest, that there are some situations where some of the agitators in these groups have been assaulting the police and they have a right to defend themselves.

But many, many of these image show the police engaged in abusive behavior and you know, there's just no excuse for it. It breaks my heart. We're watching Americans assault Americans. And the ironic part of this is that in many instances, if you look at what -- and especially in this defund police movement -- what is ironic to me is that not only do the protesters want the police not to engage in certain activities, but cops don't want to be doing those things either.

But cops to them are volunteer to deal -- they'd be the first responders of mental health for homelessness and all that. The police were given these by policy makers and legislators who abdicated their responsibility to solve these problems in some other social way and the cops ended up having to do it. And that's not who should be handling these problems. If you ask cops on those front lines who are facing those protesters, do you want to be here, the answer is no. Do you want to be the first responder to issues of mental health or homelessness? They will tell you they don't want to do that.

So in some instances and some dynamics here we've got protesters and cops battling over exactly the same thing. They actually agree on this. But the tensions are so high and people are so outraged by the images they saw that I think they've not been able to communicate on that. And when the cops get out of hand and start abusing people then nobody's been a listen to that at that point.

ALLEN: Well it is a complex issue for sure but one that is being closely examined. We appreciate your time. We appreciate your candor. Jim Bueermann joining us. Thanks so much.

BUEERMANN: Sure.

ALLEN: Next here, as President Trump's poll numbers fall and he trails behind rival Joe Biden, he's getting ready to hold campaign rallies once again.

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ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump is lashing out after a new CNN poll found his job approval rating dropped 7 points in the last month. The poll finds just 38 percent approve of President Trump's job as president in June. That's compared to 45 percent back in May. And that's not all. The poll found 55 percent think Joe Biden would lead the nation better in times of crisis compared to 41 percent for Mr. Trump. The President who likes to tout his positive poll numbers is now tweeting this.

CNN Polls are as Fake as their Reporting. Some numbers, and worse, against Crooked Hillary. The Dems would destroy America!

But as Mr. Trump fumes over his poll numbers, his political rival, Joe Biden, is taking on the role of healer in chief. Visiting George Floyd's family and promising to push for changes in policing.

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JOE BIDEN, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jill and I talked to them about it's hard enough to grieve, but it's much harder to do it in public. It's much harder with the whole world watching. There an incredible family. His little daughter was there. You want to say, daddy's going to change the world. And I think her daddy is going to change the world. I think what's happened here is one of those great inflection points in American history. For real in terms of civil liberties, civil rights and just treating people with dignity.

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ALLEN: President Trump is itching to get back to doing what he loves most, holding rallies. He hasn't had one since March when in person campaigning stop because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now his campaign manager said he's getting ready to hold rallies in two weeks.

In a statement to CNN Brad Parscale said, quote, Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You'll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that Sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.

Joining me now from London, Natasha Lindstaedt, Professor of government at the University of Essex. Good morning to you, Natasha. Thanks for coming on.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Good morning.

ALLEN: We've got some polls to look at. We'd like you to help us dissect them with us. We're going to wait and see how the rallies resume. But looking at recent polls, President Trump very much appears to me to rally his base because it's not looking good. In the latest CNN poll the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken a 14-point lead over Trump. And when asked how Trump is handling his job as President -- you can see the numbers there -- 88 percent of Blacks disapprove, 60 percent of Latinos, 52 percent of whites to 45 percent disapprove. How significant are these numbers? And he calls him sleepy Joe but it looks like it's the President who could be asleep at the job here.

LINDSTAEDT: Right, no, these numbers are really, really significant. These polls look terrible for Trump. The recent CNN poll looks really bad. But there are also other polls that are reflecting the aim thing. And the trend is really bad at a time when he needs to be increasing his support base. I mean, this is a really critical time. And he's fairing much worse than he really ever has. We only have a couple of flash points in his presidency that were much worse.

Also if we were to compare Biden's support, he has much more support than Hillary Clinton did at the same time. And then another critical thing, if we look back historically, Trump's approval rating is on par with Bush senior, with Carter and these were presidents that didn't get reelected. So these numbers look really bad for the Trump campaign. And he's going to have to do something pretty significant to change this trend because it's all about how he's handled the coronavirus and he's handled race relations and the protests that ensued after George Floyd was killed.

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ALLEN: Right. He's been criticized widely for how he's handled or mishandled the pandemic. Especially early on when warnings went unheeded. And now as you mentioned, we do have the George Floyd killing by police. Here is another poll, a recent poll, asking how Mr. Trump is handling race relations. 63 percent of the people that took the poll said they disapprove, while 31 percent say they approve.

And this is an issue that is now top of mind, police brutality and racism in this presidential election.

LINDSTAEDT: This has become a huge issue and on par with healthcare and the economy. And that really is not good for Trump, because as you already noted, a strong majority, super majority of Americans don't think he's doing a very good job at handling the issue of race. They don't think he's done a good job at dealing with the protests, he's not creating unity. He's not trying to create calm. He's not exercising any leadership. He's not showing any compassion.

What he's really good at is sewing divisions, creating chaos and creating controversy. Just looking at that ridiculous photo op where he used tear gas on his own citizens in order to pose with the Bible to placate his own base. That wasn't going to unite us. That was something that was deliberately done in order to create divisions. And Americans are now seeing that race and the issue of race is more important and that he is not the ideal person to be in charge under the circumstances.

ALLEN: And during this time of national crisis he hasn't seemed interested in addressing the American public since the death of Mr. Floyd. Does it appear the White House is in a quagmire about how to respond outside of that now widely considered deplorable photo op with the Bible. LINDSTAEDT: He has no idea how to respond because he's taking it all

very personally and that's why he's hunkering down in the White House as if he's under siege or something like that. He should be out there as Biden was, engaging with the people, engaging with the protesters, trying to understand, trying to listen. And that would be one of the key things that the Democrats will need to do is to engage with protesters and actually hear them in order to animate their base. But Trump is completely incapable of doing this because he takes everything so personally. We are seeing with the tweets are really just trying to fuel a fire rather than try to urge everyone to unite and actually use this as a moment where we can really try to look through our past, our history and really engage with some of these (INAUDIBLE) that the protesters are bringing up.

ALLEN: Right, and I want to point to another poll that's revealing. It was by the "Wall Street Journal" and NBC news -- 51 percent of registered voters said they would prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats in 2021. While just 40 percent preferred a Republican controlled Congress. Is that a wake-up call to Republicans?

LINDSTAEDT: It should be a wake-up call. I mean, most of these Republicans have decided that they were going to align themselves with Trump completely and really ignore some of the ideals that the Republican party had advocated for so many years. Now we're seeing that that gamble may not pay off. And they may need to actually distance themselves with Trump if they want a chance to win elections in some of the House raises and some of these key Senate races. All of this is bad news for the Trump campaign. Because he thrives off of this idea that he is the answer to the Republican Party. And then that would mean that all the Republicans have to align with him or they will face punishment. So this doesn't look good for him. And we're seeing more and more top-level Republicans including former Secretary of State Colin Powell come out and say, I'm not voting for Trump.

ALLEN: 147 days until the election. We'll see how Trump gets the momentum back if he indeed does. Thank you so much for your insights. Natasha Lindstaedt, we always appreciate it.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: As countries allow more people to go back to work and socialize, globally the coronavirus pandemic isn't slowing down. We'll have the latest next for you.

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