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THE SITUATION ROOM
2,000+ Complaints Against Minneapolis Police Since 2013, Few Officers Disciplined; 20 States See Coronavirus Spikes; Joint Chiefs Chairman Apologizes; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson; Key Model Now Projects 170,000 Virus Deaths In U.S. By October; Arkansas Begins Phase Two Reopening Monday As Cases Spike. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 11, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following breaking news.
President Trump is now promising, in his words, to take care of our police, even as he confirms he's working on an executive order on policing standards in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.
At a roundtable in Dallas, the president suggested that millions of Americans are being falsely accused of being racist or bigots. Meanwhile, new protests are under way tonight, including in Dallas, where the president is continuing his visit this hour.
We're also following the demonstrations for racial justice in Seattle, Washington. President Trump is threatening to -- quote -- "take back that city" from the protesters, calling them anarchists and terrorists.
Also tonight, coronavirus fears are spiking, as the U.S. surpasses two million cases and more than 113,000 deaths. The key model cited by the White House now projects that the death toll will rise to 170,000 by October.
Let's begin our coverage this hour with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, instead of talking about police violence against black people, we just heard the president discuss officers who are being targeted in the line of duty.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
President Trump just a few moments ago in Dallas announced he will be taking some executive action to address police tactics after the death of George Floyd. But the president also seems to be showing more empathy for the police than the victims of police brutality.
The president is still stoking tensions, bragging about his administration's violent tactics and clearing out protesters for that now infamous church photo-op, even as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is apologizing for his role in the stunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA (voice-over): This is a no-apology to work for President Trump, who's still standing by his administration's response to the protests following the police killing of George Floyd.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to law and order.
ACOSTA: At a church in Dallas, the president took time to voice his concerns about officers who are targeted in the line of duty, as much of the nation's focus has been on police brutality.
TRUMP: They get shot for no reason whatsoever, other than they're wearing blue. They get knifed. You saw that the other night. It was a horrible thing.
ACOSTA: Contrast that with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, who's expressing regret for his part in the president's tour of Lafayette Square, where protesters were gassed and pummeled for Mr. Trump's photo-op at St. John's Episcopal Church.
Milley, who was dressed in combat fatigues that day, told graduates from National Defense University he crossed the line.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.
ACOSTA: Don't tell the president, who's boasting it was a big success, tweeting: "Our great National Guard troops, who took care of the area around the White House, could hardly believe how easy it was, a walk in the park, one said. The protesters, agitators, anarchists, Antifa and others were handled very easily."
Milley doesn't sound like he's on the same page.
MILLEY: The freedoms guaranteed to us in the Constitution allow people to demand change, just as the peaceful protesters are doing all across the country. That is why we serve in the military.
ACOSTA: But the president is warning of more harsh tactics for protesters in Seattle, tweeting: "Radical left Governor Jay Inslee and the mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played. Take back your city now. If you don't do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly anarchists must be stooped immediately."
Inslee noted the president's typo, firing back: "A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state's business. Stoop tweeting."
And the mayor tweeted to Mr. Trump: "Go back to your bunker."
The president risks further inflaming tensions with his plans to hold a rally next week in Oklahoma set for Tulsa, the scene of one of the worst massacres of African-Americans in U.S. history.
The date of the rally, June 19, also known as Juneteenth, the day slaves in Texas were read the Emancipation Proclamation after the Civil War. The White House says, Mr. Trump is well aware of that.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The African-American community is very near and dear to his heart. He's working on rectifying injustices, injustices that go back to the very beginning of this country's history. So it's a meaningful day to him.
ACOSTA: But the president is not budging on whether to rename U.S. military bases honoring defeated Confederate generals, even as some top Republicans sound open to the idea.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It could be appropriate to change some.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He decided that he was going to pit us against one another based on race.
ACOSTA: Former Vice President Joe Biden, who's blasting the president's handling of race relations, says he has an even bigger worry about Mr. Trump.
BIDEN: It's my greatest concern, my single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election. This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, direct voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail- in ballot to vote in a primary.
ACOSTA: Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force are looking into just how much the virus was spreading during the recent protests. That concern came up during the task force meeting earlier today.
The president's upcoming trip to Tulsa is raising similar fears about spreading the coronavirus. And administration health officials said the president's rally will pose a risk for Trump supporters at the event.
Now, get this. Trump supporters are being told they can attend the rally at their own risk. Check out the campaign's fine print for the event. We will have it up here on screen for you. It says: "By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and some of the other partners for the event liable for any illness or injury.
Wolf, that is quite a disclaimer. You have to read the fine print before you go to this rally next week in Tulsa, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's amazing, pretty significant, indeed. I haven't seen that in quite a while.
ACOSTA: Me neither.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
Let's go to Seattle, Washington, right now, where protests are under way, as President Trump is threatening to, in his words, take back the city.
CNN's Dan Simon is there.
So, Dan, what's happening on the ground right now?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Wolf. This is a pretty stunning situation.
Look behind me. This is the police station that has essentially been overtaken by protesters in the heart of Seattle. The building has been totally defaced. You can see the sign where it said the Seattle Police Department now says the Seattle People Department.
Next to it, you can see, it says, "This space is now the property of the people." And you can see the windows have been boarded up and the officers have essentially abandoned their own station.
Let me explain, Wolf, how this all came about. For several days, you had violent protests between the protesters and police. Tear gas was unleashed on these protesters. And so to de-escalate the situation, the department, along with city leadership, made the calculated decision that they were just going to abandon the station and allow these protesters to essentially take over.
So what you now have is about six or seven city blocks filled with protesters. Now, by all accounts, this is a peaceful protest. It has taken on sort of the tenor and tone of a street festival, where you have speakers. They're giving out free food.
The question now though, Wolf, is what happens when or if the department plans to take back the station? Could we see more violence? Obviously, that's something that the city does not want to see -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we will stay in close touch with you, Dan. Thank you very much for that update.
Joining us now, the former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Let me get your reaction to what we just saw, Mr. Secretary. What do you think?
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, Wolf, thanks for having me on.
Seattle is unique. There's something like 350 demonstrations a year in Seattle. I believe that, across the country, what we're seeing is people for the most part, moved by the events of Minneapolis, who are engaging in peaceful protest.
Martin Luther King said, we have the right to protest for rights. It is regrettable that some of these protests have turned toward violence. But, in each instance, local law enforcement and perhaps, with the National Guard, under the control of the governors, has been able to address it.
The president's threat about taking control of the situation himself is wholly unwarranted and, frankly, is provocative and counterproductive in this circumstance.
BLITZER: It's pretty extraordinary, though, to see the police there in Seattle abandoning one of their major buildings on the scene and, in effect, letting the protesters in several city blocks do what they want to do.
JOHNSON: It does seem that way, but I'm not in a position to second- guess those on the ground, the local authorities.
But it bears repeating that a lot of people are out engaging in their First Amendment-protected rights to peaceful protest. I participated in two marches myself this weekend. So, I guess I'm considered a protester.
But, in each instance, they were peaceful. And the only police presence we saw here in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, were those who were out barricading the streets protecting the marchers.
And that's where it needs to stay.
BLITZER: From what we're seeing in these live pictures, clearly, the protests there are peaceful right now. Let's hope it stays that way.
Mr. Secretary, we also just heard the president and speaking at this roundtable in Dallas, where he lauded police forces, rather than acknowledging repeated incidents of police violence against African- Americans.
The president saying he's working on an executive order on police standards. Does it sound to you like he's considering some significant substantial reform?
JOHNSON: No, it does not, because you cannot significantly and substantially reform police departments across this country through an executive order, without any sort of legislation, either at the national or local level. And I do believe that the answer to our current problems reside
largely at the state and local level through reforms by mayors and city councils of police departments in the various cities. I do not look to our national-level Congress to solve this problem.
I think, if we do, we will be disappointed. Our Congress could not act in response to Parkland. Our Congress could not act in response to Sandy Hook. I believe the answer here resides and should reside at the state level, at the local level, city councils responding to their constituencies, frankly.
BLITZER: Before you were secretary of homeland security, you were a senior official at the Department of Defense. So, what's your reaction to when you hear the president say, he's not even going to consider, not even going to consider changing the names of U.S. military bases, the names of Confederate generals who served to oppose the United States?
He says, that's out of the question. I know this whole issue of Confederate symbols in the U.S. military is very personal to you.
JOHNSON: Well, the answer to this is not simple.
It is not -- it is -- the president wants to do this in a very ham- handed, heavy-handed way. I was very pleased to see that the CNO of the Navy and the commandant of the Marine Corps have decided, have concluded that they should ban Confederate Flags from bases.
I know, I understand that, for some, the Confederate Flag is a sign of they're proud of their Southern heritage. I too have a Southern heritage. And, Wolf, I hope your viewers can see this. This is my great-great-grandmother, Julia Branch (ph). She was a teenage slave during the Civil War.
And what the Confederate Flag represents to me and all other descendants of slaves in this country is an indication, a sign that my great-grandmother should have remained a slave for the rest of her life.
And so the Confederate Flag personally is offensive to me and to many, many other people. Now, it's -- Wolf, it's complicated, because, on the other hand, my great-great-grandmother is buried in an integrated cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia, just a few feet away from where Confederate soldiers are buried.
Do I believe that she should be removed from that cemetery because of the proximity to Confederate soldiers? No. She was laid to rest in 1937. And I believe she should continue to lay at rest in that place.
BLITZER: Can you hold up her picture again? I'd like to our viewers to get a little better shot of that.
There she is. Yes.
JOHNSON: It's my great-great-grandmother, Julia Branch, born a slave. She was a slave. She was a teenager during the Civil War. And the Confederate Flag, to me, represents the viewpoint that she
should have remained a slave for the rest of her life.
BLITZER: It's a very personal issue for you and for so many millions and millions of people.
Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, for joining us. Always appreciate your being here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we will have more on President Trump's vow to -- quote -- "take care of our police," as we await details of the executive order he just confirmed the White House is working on.
Plus, very grim new projections of tens of thousands more coronavirus deaths here in the United States this summer, as the number of cases continues to rise.
BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on President Trump.
He's praising police during an event in Dallas that may have done more to fan racial tensions than to heal them.
I want to bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and our senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Laura Coates.
Laura, I want you to listen and our viewers to listen to the president speaking at that event just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Americans are good and virtuous people. We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we will make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots.
We have to get everybody together. We have to be in the same -- same path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Laura, what does that tell you about his understanding of this very sensitive, potentially very historic moment we're going through?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sounds absolutely tone-deaf, and really a response like he had from Charlottesville maybe 3.0 at this point.
Remember, Wolf, the idea of his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of his final acts as attorney general was to try to roll back the very powerful consent decrees that were a part of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, because he was afraid that there would be a vilification of police officers, that there's somehow -- if you acknowledge that there was not only discriminatory practices, but a pattern of behavior and poor training and a need for these consent decrees, that with, one wide brush, you would vilify an entire department and entire industry.
But, instead, by acknowledging that we do, in fact, have systemic racism within our police systems, with acknowledging that we do, in fact have a need for a national standard, and for there to be a need for transparency and accountability, in many ways, he is very dismissive of why 50 states continue to protest as a visceral reaction to not only the symbolism of George Floyd, but the specific killing of that man as well.
BLITZER: Dana, as the president announced an executive order on police standards, he repeatedly lauded police forces, rather than acknowledging incidents of police brutality against African-Americans.
What do you expect his executive order will entail?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're not exactly sure of the details, but what is important is the fact that he is doing what he can with whatever power that he has to make the point even more loudly and even more clearly that he did today, which is that he is standing by the police.
And he is standing by the notion that police are there to support and protect Americans, which the vast majority of police, I think people can agree, maybe that that's true. But that's not what the issue is.
The issue is, those who abuse their power, and those who abuse their power to the point of killing people in a very -- in a very aggressive way that has been going on for far too long.
And what the president is doing with the promise of an executive order, with the comments he's made today, with every single tweet that his campaign has put out, is, they're banking on the same cultural situation now that we saw four years ago, which is, there's cultural change, and it's going very fast, and that there a lot of people in this country who think maybe it's going too fast, and they look to Donald Trump as somebody who is going to promise a return to that.
And there's a lot of loaded language in some of that, but also the fact that he's saying,if you don't agree with me -- if you don't agree with the people who are out protesting, some people are calling them racists, it's driving more of a wedge that he thinks worked for him in 2016 and will work for him again now, despite what we're seeing with regard to a real movement on a corporate level and on so many other stages, institutions in this country.
BLITZER: Laura, these comments come as the president is planning to hold a rally a week from tomorrow on what's called Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both that date and that location have very, very great significance, don't they?
COATES: They absolutely do.
I mean, remember, Juneteenth is not simply about the Emancipation Proclamation. It stands for the fact that nearly two years went by between the time in which the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and the time in which slaves in Texas, the last Confederate state to actually alert the slaves that they were, in fact, free.
And so the idea of using this particular date and in the venue of a race massacre wiping out Black Wall Street, as it became to be known, in Texas, the confluence of both of those factors at a time when people are taking to the streets and petitioning and asking for the government and local leaders to try to address justice delayed and denied really speaks volumes about the inability to recognize the sanctity of that particular day.
I mean, the entire premise of Juneteenth is how absurd and unfortunate it is that states were unwilling to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. And so people who were by law and should have been by humanity free were delayed even that. It's absurd and hurtful.
BLITZER: Laura Coates, thank you very much. Dana Bash, thanks to you as well.
Just ahead: startling new numbers in the coronavirus pandemic. The rate of new cases is on the rise in 20 states, as the country now surpasses two million total.
I will speak with Dr. Ashish Jha about his very disturbing forecast of yet another 100,000 U.S. deaths by September.
BLITZER: Looking at live pictures coming in from New York City right now. Protesters there have closed down the Holland Tunnel connecting New York, New Jersey.
We're following this. We will update you as we get more information. Clearly, the protests here in the U.S. continue.
Meanwhile, there's other breaking news we're following in the coronavirus pandemic, as the U.S. now surpasses two million confirmed cases, with many states reporting spikes in hospitalizations and new infections.
Our national correspondent, Erica Hill, is joining us with the very latest.
Erica, these are really stunning numbers.
ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. And, oftentimes, as we have been seeing these spikes over the last
couple of weeks, we have also been talking about testing, that testing is more widespread. Of course, the more testing, the more positive numbers you will see.
But that's not the only metric, Wolf. And, increasingly, we're looking at hospitalizations. And that, we're learning, is cause for concern in a number of states.
HILL (voice-over): As Americans embrace summer, health experts are focused on disturbing new data trends.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Somehow, as a country, we have decided that hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from this virus is okay, and that is unbelievable to me.
HILL: New modeling forecasts nearly 170,000 COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. by October 1st.
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-AUSTIN, TX): We had a huge spike in hospitalizations in our city yesterday.
HILL: Texas, one of at least a dozen states, seeing a spike in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
MAYOR KATE GALLEGO (D-PHOENIX, AZ): We opened too much too early and so our hospitals are really struggling.
HILL: Nearly 80 percent of Arizona's ICU beds are now in use.
DR. JAY VARKEY, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: I think that a critical shortage of ICU beds is absolutely the nightmare scenario. That was the whole reason we were emphasizing about flattening the curve.
HILL: In some of the first states to reopen, the curve is not flattening. Florida still posting more than 1,000 new cases a day. And in South Carolina daily counts have been rising over the past two weeks.
DR. LINDA BELL, SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL: I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than I have ever before.
HILL: Much of the west and south also reporting an uptick. Nashville is now delaying its next phase of reopening in response to a rise in new cases.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we handle them well, we could be okay. If not, then we really have a significant problem.
HILL: Iowa's iconic state fair has been postponed for the first time since World War II, no butter cows, no campaigning.
The Coachella and stagecoach festivals in Southern California canceled for 2020. New research from the U.K. boosting the case for wearing a mask, noting widespread use could help avoid a second wave.
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: It is consistent in several other studies, which essentially show that if you've got the majority of people wearing masks, the virus really has no place to go.
HILL: In Missouri, two hairstylists who worked with 140 clients while symptomatic did not infect them. Everyone wore masks. Health officials now taking a closer look.
And in Chicago, a successful double lung transplant for a woman in her 20s who spent six weeks on a ventilator battling the virus.
DR. ANKIT BHARAT, CHIEF OF THORACIC SURGERY, NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE: Yesterday, she smiled and told me just one sentence. She said, doc, thank you for not giving up on me.
HILL: A bit of hope in uncertain times.
HILL: The doctor is saying those are the moments that he really lives for as a physician. He also noted that the damage to her lungs were irreversible, in his words, and that this transplant was really her only option. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Erica Hill reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Let's get some more on the coronavirus pandemic, which clearly continues. Dr. Ashish Jha is joining us right now. He's the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Dr. Jha, these new projection we are getting, your estimate, the new modeling coming in from the University of Washington, indicate tens of thousands more Americans are going to lose their lives to coronavirus in the coming weeks and months. These are truly staggering, sobering figures.
Update our viewers right now. What's your latest sense of how many more could die between now and, let's say, September?
JHA: Yes, Wolf. Thanks for having me on.
There are several different models that IHME, the University of Washington model, has consistently been undercalling it. Remember, that's the model that said 60 to 80,000 deaths by June and, of course, it turned out that it was much worse than that, even they now are saying 170,000 by the end of September. And we don't know the exact number.
Here is what we know. I think every estimate out there says that if things continue on the current trend, we're going to lose 20 to 30,000 Americans a month and nothing in the foreseeable future stops that unless we really do things differently.
So whatever the model, it all looks pretty bad right now and we have got to change course.
BLITZER: The director of that Univesrity Of Washington model says, seasonality will be an important factor in the second wave of coronavirus. Can you explain why that is?
JAH: Yes. So we do think that being outside leads to less transmission and we think warmer and more humid weather also really affects the virus' ability to transmit. It doesn't make it go away but it helps a little bit in terms of reducing transmission.
But what nature gives us over the summer, it takes away in the fall. As we spend more time indoors, as it gets cooler and dryer, the virus is going to tick up. So if we are at 180 or 200,000 deaths by September-October, then the numbers might tick up after that and we might start to see more cases, more deaths.
So we really have to look at all of this pretty seriously and think about how we change course.
BLITZER: Well, do you think another shutdown in the fall will become necessary if actions aren't taken now?
JHA: Shutdowns are obviously just -- I mean, they are devastating, they're a bit of a disaster on their own in all the ways that they affect us.
A shutdown should only be used as a last resort when things have really gotten out of control. That's what happened in February and March when we just didn't pay much attention to this virus. And I am hoping that we don't do that, that we really take aggressive course now and don't find ourselves having to decide between a kind of a runaway infection and having to shut down. Those would be bad choices they have to make.
BLITZER: It would be. Dr. Ashish Jha, thanks so much for all your help. Thanks for your expertise. We are grateful to you.
JHA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, I will speak with the governor of Arkansas as the state moves into phase two of its reopening plan on Monday despite a spike in new infections.
Plus, CNN investigates the Minneapolis Police Department and a long history of complaints against its police officers.
[18:40:00] BLITZER: Tonight, as we get more alarming statistics of the coronavirus pandemic, the State of Arkansas is actually moving into phase two of its reopening despite a spike in new cases there.
Joining us now, the Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson. Governor Hutchinson, I know you're very busy. Thanks for spending a few moments with us.
You said Arkansas is moving into phase two of the reopening this coming Monday, but cases of coronavirus are on a rise in your state. You can see it here. We'll put it up on the map. Arkansas is in bright red. What makes you confident you can safely move into reopening phase two?
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): I mean, first of all, it's good to be with you, Wolf. And in terms of where we are in Arkansas under phase two, we still have restrictions. We simply went to restaurants and other venues can go to two-thirds of capacity. So there're still limitations, they still have to do the social distancing.
And what we have seen is that while we have a spike in cases, that concerns us a great deal. And we're watching it closely in the hospitalization rate. We haven't seen a correlation between the new cases that we are having and the fact we had reopened our restaurants to one-third capacity or the other venues.
And so that's what we are watching, it's where the correlation is between loosening the restriction and allowing economic activity go on and the fact that we do have a spike in cases. The fact is that, really, the only direction we can go as a nation is individual discipline and business discipline to make sure that we have the right public safety requirements, health requirements in place, on social distancing, we wear a mask. That's what you have to do to control or to stop the spread of this virus, and that's what we have to emphasize.
BLITZER: Yes. And you've got really make the point that this coronavirus continues. It's, by no means, however, that people have to take care of themselves, they've got to wear a mask, they have to engage in social distancing, all of the requirements.
I want to put up also, Governor, a graph showing a rise in hospitalizations in Arkansas. And that's pretty worrisome. Take a look at how this graph is showing. It's a very, very steady increase, not just people getting tested, not just people coming down with the coronavirus, but actual hospitalizations. You've got to be pretty sick to go into the hospital.
HUTCHINSON: You are right. You are right. And, for example, we have increased dramatically the testing in Arkansas, which has revealed more cases. Most of those, thank goodness, did not require hospitalization, but we watch the hospitalization very carefully. And as you see it go up, we try to make sure that we have the capacity to address it. And the hospitals have opened up to other elective surgery, which was absolutely necessary. We had done without that for a couple of months. And so they needed to meet these other health needs.
And so we are keeping an eye on that. And the fact is that we still have a low death rate in Arkansas. Our hospitalization, we are watching, it's confined, really, to one area of the state. And the virus has come through our state at different times in different ways. Right now, we've got a couple of counties that we're concerned about. And we have the CDC coming in helping us with some of the population that we see some of the spread located in.
BLITZER: Well, good luck with all of that, Governor. I know you have your hands full, like so many other governors.
I want you to -- while I have you, I want to get your thoughts on a different subject right now. As you know, symbols of the confederacy are under renewed scrutiny right now. One of those symbols is actually your state flag in Arkansas. One of the stars on the flag honors the confederacy.
You supported an effort in the past to change that. It was not successful. Does this need to be revisited now?
HUTCHINSON: Well, there are a number of those symbolic issues that are of concern. I mean, the flag is with one of them. And that's something that the legislature I asked to remedy that. They didn't do that. It's certainly a topic that will come back. I believe that it will get done at some point, because symbolism means a lot to people who suffered under discrimination that sees the challenges that we saw in Minneapolis with George Floyd. And this is something that has to be addressed.
In Arkansas, I created a task force that took some of the protesters that were very genuine about change, heartfelt emotion and took them with some of our police and said we are going to have a task force to look at more accountability, look at the training.
And that's an on going effort in Arkansas. And that's probably more tangible than the symbolism, but the symbol is something we will continue to have a dialogue about.
BLITZER: I know you will. I know you tried to change it in the past and it didn't work out. We will see if it works out now begin the current environment.
Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, thanks so much for joining us.
HUTCHINSON: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you. Good luck and be safe.
Just ahead, CNN investigates a long history of complaints against police in Minneapolis years before George Floyd was killed. We'll update you on that when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:50:18]
BLITZER: Now, a CNN investigation into the long history of complaints against police officers in Minneapolis, well before the George Floyd incident.
Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reports.
GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the midst of this video that horrified a nation, a bystander called out a badge number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten-eighty-seven.
MICHELLE GROSS, COMMUNITIES UNITED AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY: I played it over and over and listened carefully and figured out for sure this was badge 1087. And at that point, I knew that it was Derek Chauvin.
GRIFFIN: George Floyd had been dead less than 12 hours. Michelle Gross who heads a Minneapolis group called Communities United Against Police Brutality was about to tell the world who killed him.
GROSS: So, when I saw the name, I said, oh, him. I wasn't surprised because when you start to see those same officers over and over again with multiple complaints, their names lodge in your brain.
GRIFFIN: For two decades, her organization has been tracking investigations against Minneapolis police. The date is limited, the investigative details not public, but the outcomes are clear. Scroll down data from the city's own website and you'll see complaint after complaint closed with no discipline.
Minneapolis police have racked up 2,013 complaints in seven years. Of those, just 31 ended in serious discipline. Just 1.5 percent.
GROSS: We have so failed to address police conduct in this community. It made it really inevitable that somebody was going to die this way.
GRIFFIN: Derek Chauvin, whose knee was on George Floyd's neck, has at least 18 complaints. Just two have led to discipline. His partner that night, Tou Thao, has six, one still pending, five dismissed with no discipline. In 2017, Thao and his partner were sued for using unreasonable force by a man who was punched and kicked so hard his teeth broke, but he had not committed a crime. The city and officers denied any wrongdoing, settled for $25,000. Thao remained a cop.
Minneapolis police have a long history of allegations of excessive force, lawsuits, and even intervention from the federal Department of Justice, police chiefs, city councils, mayors come and go without fixing the problems that have built for decades.
R.T. RYBAK, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR: If I had an easy answer about why we haven't gotten more done with police reform with Minneapolis, we wouldn't be in this mess today.
GRIFFIN: R.T. Rybak was mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2014. He changed the police chief three times. He says he fought for more transparency and complaints, fought to bring in minority officers and better training to handle the mentally ill.
(on camera): But when we see over and over again the data, the complaints filed that went nowhere and continue to go nowhere, I really have to question whether or not there was a sincere attempt to restructure the Minneapolis Police Department.
RYBAK: It's the right question. Someone like me should stand before you and have to answer that question. I don't want to leave the impression I didn't try, but I did not get the job done and now is the time to get the job done.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Phillip Atiba Goff man is the cofounder of the Center for Policing Equity.
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: If we think the problem here is, well, policing is bad in the United States, we missed the point.
GRIFFIN: What is the point? Goff says its entire swaths of communities lacking grocery stores, lacking jobs, lacking good education. And he says let's begin using data for far more than law enforcement.
GOFF: I'm talking about measuring everything that we need to to ensure those communities can be healthy, safe, and empowered to determine their own outcomes.
Police are the spark, but the historic disinvestment of black communities which is why they only have police to solve their problems, that's really the powder keg.
GRIFFIN: A powder keg that erupted with the protests but had been building for decades.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, the city of Minneapolis tells us most of those thousands of complaints against his officers are considered low level and in fact, in 300 cases, its officers received coaching instead of actual discipline. But how coaching is applied is unclear, and it's certainly not transparent. A former police chief of Minneapolis tells us if one of her officers was coached repeatedly for bad behavior, she wouldn't even know it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Drew Griffin reporting for us -- Drew, excellent, excellent work. Thank you.
We'll have more news just ahead.
GRIFFIN: Finally, tonight as the U.S. coronavirus death toll now exceeds 113,000, we pay tribute to some of those we have lost.
Margaret Spangler of Washington state was 81. Her daughters Christy and Sherry say she was strong, smart and funny, the glue that held their family together. They say they're comforted knowing she will be reunited with their dad, her beloved husband of 60 years.
Conrad Buchanan of Florida was only 39 years old. He was a vivacious deejay who loved dancing with his daughter Sky. His wife Nicole says after he was hospitalized, she never got to see him to say goodbye. She says his death is a reminder that young, healthy people are not immune from this horrible, horrible virus.
May they rest in peace and may they their memories being a blessing.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.